Organizers stole my idea — Asiegbu • He is just being greedy — Organizers

A daring cold war has reared its head between the organizers of the “Face of Nollywood” competition and Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, current president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), concerning issues of ownership of rights to the event.

This development is coming barely one week to the grand finale of the competition billed to hold at the International Conference Centre, Abuja on November 15, 2008.

Before now, ten finalists have been selected in an internet poll conducted by Potech Ltd on behalf of Total Television Studios, run by Messrs Chike Brian and Ifanyi Ikpoenyi, both Nollywood practitioners.
The ten finalists are Genevieve Nnaji, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Bukky Wright, Emeka Ike and Patience Ozokwo.
Others are Saheed Balogun, Ini Edo, Richard Mofe Damijo, Stella Damasus and Ramsey Noah Jnr.
But in a rather strange twist, Mr. Asiegbu has moved swiftly to scuttle the event claiming that the organizers infringed on his rights as the original owner of the brand’s trademark.

In a press release he issued and signed as the president of AGN he stated: “AGN is the original, natural and legal owners of the brand name and registered trademark “Face of Nollywood”. Though giving explanation to Citytracker’s question, he agreed that the idea mooted by him and some friends to host similar event in 2005 was tagged “Screen Stars”

What NFC found difficult to comprehend was why Mr. Asiegbu waited till the last minute to lay claim to the right of “Face of Nollywood” when he could have done same at its inception.

A call was put across to Mr. Chike Brian, a member of the organizing team of “Face of Nollywood”.
His response: “Ejike Asiegbu is suffering from greed. His present action is not only unfortunate for Nollywood but also for the Igbo man. We thought he was a man of dignity and honour”.

Asked to defend Mr. Asiegbu’s claim that the right to the brand “Face of Nollywood” belonged to AGN, he said: “Screen Stars” whatever its content may have been, can never be same as “Face of Nollywood”, this is where he has goofed. “Face of Nollywood” has been duly registered by us and we have all the documents to buttress this”.
Also Mr. Asiegbu in his press statement claimed that the AGN is not a party to the project of the “Face of Nollywood” as the publicity drive and other documentations by organizers portray. However same statement agreed to initiating a move that aimed to give birth to a memorandum of understanding, which it never signed.

To this claim, Mr. Brian stressed: “You see, Ejike Asiegbu has never been our enemy. He is our colleague and our friend. We have severally worked together so there was no basis for us to be at daggers drawn over any issue. The fact is that when we initiated this programme, he never told us he, or AGN had the copyright of “Face of Nollywood”, all he demanded was that we should collaborate with the union since the event concerned the industry.
“We agreed to work with the union after which we must have presented a memorandum of understanding.
“But unfortunately, when the MOU was presented, he refused to sign until we have agreed to part with five percent of all monies made before the grand finale. We told him it would not be possible or proper, as the monies made before the grand finale would be plowed into the event to enable its success.

“He specifically claimed that he learnt that Dr.Aliyu Modibbo, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, had donated the sum of N20 million to the event and insisted that he (not AGN) must be given N2 million before he appends his signature to the memorandum of understanding, which had long been submitted to him.

“In actual fact, we did not receive such sum or any money from the minister. What the former minister donated was the hall, which serves as the venue of the grand finale and cars. He told us the ministry has no money to give. We do not know how Ejike Asiegbu got the information that we received N20 million naira from the ministry.
“We proceeded with the programme without a signed memorandum of understanding because we had no choice as all preparations had been made for a successful hosting.

“The reason why Mr. Asiegbu now wants to scuttle this competition is because he refuse to give in to his greed, not because the registered trademark is not ours.
“He intentionally refused to sign the MOU, so that he could try and scuttle our show, but he has failed woefully. The show is going to hold as scheduled.