As soon as the enforcement squad drove into the expansive premises of I-Prints, they swiftly cordoned off the entire area. Simultaneously, the about 15 mobile police officers at the head of the raid briefly took positions, as ordered by their leader, Steve Odok.
National Copyright Commission‘s enforcement officer, Mr. Femi Ajala, who led the raid, seemed to be practised in the act. He knew which office, which production nook and cranny to move into in that kind of situation, for instance. He also appreciated the need to ensure that no person or item was allowed to get out of the premises. So, he ordered that there be no phone calls, while Odok went as far as asking all the workers met in the house built in the form of a warehouse to submit their phones until further notice.
But if the NCC squad secured obedience easily as far as such orders were concerned, it met a brick wall when it sought to get information on the operational mode of I-Prints, as far as copyright-related products are concerned. Take the issue of the company‘s name as an example. It took Ajala and his men almost the entire one hour spent in the premises before they could get a cue that it is I- Prints. The fact is that in a way that fuelled the fear that the company might have some skeletons in its cupboard, its name was not conspicuously indicated on any spot at the arena.
Even the managers met on duty, like Mr F. S. Chan, a Chinese, and about 20 others, were not forthcoming on I-Print‘s modus operandi. After much probing, Chan noted that he was an engineer at I-Prints, and that he was on contract – meaning that he had little or nothing to say about the company‘s alleged involvement in piracy.
But even if Chan could not say much, NCC readily got some items that confirmed its fears that institutional piracy was going on. An array of printing machines and other kinds of equipment were found in the premises. So also were the workers in various sections, some printing, while some were collating some of the CD inlays being printed.
But the most suspicious of such objects were newly-printed inlays of foreign films which, NCC believes, I-Prints has no licence or rights to reproduce.
Among such were Delta Force, Kick Boxer, Karate Tiger, Born Invincible, Douple Impact and May Day.
However, there were indications that the company also prints inlays for Nigerian artistes – or, at least, for Nigerian films and records. Found in the premises, for instance, were inlays of O Gaby‘s Laughter Republic and Emmanuel Agbo‘s Daily Life.
While it was also discovered that I-Prints has its main office on Aromire Street in Ikeja, one Ibrahim Rufai, who was found among the workers, said he was a graphic designer. According to him, he works for another company, and that he was only in I-Prints office to get a work done. He was, however, apprehended alongside Chan and three other Chinese, who were taken to the NCC‘s office – with heaps of CD in-lays and some CPUs.
Speaking on the incident, Ajala said the Adebambo Adewopo-led NCC had got an intelligence report that activities not unconnected with piracy was going on in the premises.
”A surveillance carried out on the company revealed that it is neck-deep in activities that border on piracy. Does this company has the authorisation to print the inlays of the indicated works, including the foreign movies? We are going to pursue the facts.”
NCC Director General, Mr. Adebambo Adewopo, noted that the raid was part of the zero tolerance for piracy, which it was bound to prosecute in 2009.
”Piracy is not just an economic crime,” he said. ”It is even a crime against humanity. We will ensure that those who want to destroy the creative industry, those who want to continue to reap where they do not sow will have no peace in 2009 and the years to come after.”