The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has re-arraigned one Anthony Onyejekwe, a.k.a. “Alaba King of Pirates” before a Federal High Court in Lagos over alleged massive piracy of several copyright protected musical and audiovisual works; commercial possession of the pirated works; as well as sale of such infringing protected works. Onyejekwe, who was arraigned on a three-count charge before the court, pleaded not guilty, while the matter was adjourned till tomorrow. NCC’s Director-General, Afam Ezekude, was in court to underscore the Commission’s commitment to effective antipiracy enforcement and prosecution of pirates. Briefing pressmen on the activities on the commission, Ezekude explained that Onyejekwe was arrested on November 5, 2009, by the Ojo Police Station, Lagos, following a complaint by one Peter Divine Okah, alleging piracy of his recorded music in CD format. He added that in line with its powers under the Copyright Act, the Commission made a formal request to the Inspector-General of Police for the transfer of the case file to the Commission to facilitate further investigation, adding that on January 20, the case file was transferred to the Commission. Speaking further, the NCC boss pointed out that his commission carried out further investigation and, having obtained relevant evidence to establish a case of criminal infringement, the accused was arraigned on a three-count charge of illegal reproduction of several musical and audiovisual works; being in possession of infringing works; as well as sale of such infringing works. According to Ezekude: “It is pertinent to state that these charges were based on overwhelming evidence of infringing materials recovered from the accused person in the course of investigations. The infringing products included protected works belonging to several copyright owners, including the complainant, Peter Divine Okah of Oceanic Music, Dan Ike African China, X Project, Bracket, P Square, Gloria Oluchi, Kelechi Edeh, NIRA Audiovisual Ltd, and producers of works belonging to both National Association of Recording Industries (NARI) and the Music Label Owners and Recording Industries Association of Nigeria (MORAN). “The trial of the accused person commenced promptly before Honourable Justice O. E. Abang and as at December 14, 2010, three prosecution witnesses had given evidence. However, on the said December 14, 2010, Justice Abang, made an order transferring the case to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment. This order, I need to mention, was not at the instance of the Commission. In his order, the Honourable Judge expressed his frustration and inability to carry on with the trial “out of frustration” by the defence which repeatedly raised objections that had been considered and disposed of by the court. “Be that as it may, the case was subsequently re-assigned to Honourable Justice M. B. Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, and the matter is expected to commence afresh. The Commission is set to re-arraign the accused person, Anthony Onyejekwe, on a second round of the same trail. The Commission is, however, concerned that despite its efforts at diligent prosecution of the matter, further calculated efforts to frustrate the trial, similar to what obtained in the first round of the case before the Honourable Justice O. E. Abang, is already manifesting. “We note with grave concern that under the incumbent trial judge, this matter has come up for mention on three occasions, namely on February 16, March 10 and April 1, 2011, for purposes of re-arraigning the accused person. On each of these instances, both the accused and the defence counsel failed to appear in court, despite the fact that appropriate hearing notices had been issued by the court,” he said. The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) on June 6 re-arraigned one Anthony Onwujekwe, a.k.a. “Alaba King of Pirates” at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos on a three-count charge (No. FHC/L/33c/2010) of piracy of several copyright protected musical and audiovisual works; commercial possession of the pirated works; as well as sale of such infringing protected works. The accused person pleaded not guilty before the new presiding judge, Honourable Justice M. B. Idris, who has consequently adjourned the matter to tomorrow. The Director-General of NCC, Mr. Afam Ezekude, was in court to underscore the Commission’s commitment to effective anti- piracy enforcement and prosecution of pirates. The director-general expressed concern over attempts of the prosecution counsel at frustrating effective hearing of the case. This indication emerged from the ruling of December 14, 2010 by the former presiding judge, Honourable Justice O. E. Abang, who complained of frustration of further hearing of the case by the defence counsel, and consequently referred the matter to the Chief Judge for re-assignment. The following is the text of the director-general’s remarks sequel to the re-arraignment of the accused and adjournment: “Gentlemen of the Press, it has become necessary to brief you on developments regarding the ongoing criminal case initiated by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) against one Anthony Onwujekwe, a.k.a. “Alaba King of Pirates”, at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos. “On November 5, 2009, the accused person was arrested by the Ojo Police Station, Lagos, following a complaint by one Peter Divine Okah, alleging piracy of his recorded music in CD format. In line with its powers under the Copyright Act, the Commission made a formal request to the Inspector-General of Police for the transfer of the case file to the Commission to facilitate further investigation. On January 20, 2010, the case file was transferred to the Commission. The Commission carried out further investigation and, having obtained relevant evidence to establish a case of criminal infringement, arraigned the accused person on a three-count charge of illegal reproduction of several musical and audiovisual works; being in possession of infringing works; as well as sale of such infringing works. “It is pertinent to state that these charges were based on overwhelming evidence of infringing materials recovered from the accused person in the course of investigations. The infringing products included protected works belonging to several copyright owners, including the complainant, Peter Divine Okah of Oceanic Music, Dan Ike African China, X Project, Bracket, P Square, Gloria Oluchi, Kelechi Edeh, NIRA Audiovisual Ltd, and producers of works belonging to both National Association of Recording Industries (NARI) and the Music Label Owners and Recording Industries Association of Nigeria (MORAN) “The trial of the accused person commenced promptly before Honourable Justice O. E. Abang and as at December 14, 2010, three prosecution witnesses had given evidence. However, on the said December 14, 2010, the presiding Judge, Justice O. E. Abang, made an order transferring the case to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment. This order, I need to mention, was not at the instance of the Commission. In his order, the Honourable Judge expressed his frustration and inability to carry on with the trial “out of frustration” by the defence which repeatedly raised objections that had been considered and disposed of by the court. “Be that as it may, the case was subsequently reassigned to Honourable Justice M. B. Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, and the matter is expected to commence afresh. The Commission is, however, concerned that despite its efforts at diligent prosecution of the matter, further calculated efforts to frustrate the trail, similar to what obtained in the first round of the case before the Honourable Justice O. E. Abang, is already manifesting. We note with grave concern that under the incumbent trial judge, this matter has come up for mention on three occasions, namely on February 16, March 10 and April 1, 2011, for purposes of re-arraigning the accused person. On each of these instances, both the accused and the defence counsel failed to appear in court, despite the fact that appropriate hearing notices had been issued by the court. “Taking cognisance of the need to proceed on this case expeditiously, the Commission has filed a motion fixed for hearing today, seeking that evidence led before the former judge (Justice O. E. Abang) be admitted in evidence before the present trial judge. This application is in line with relevant court rules and in particular provisions of the Evidence Act. “The Commission is not unmindful of the interest which this case has generated among our local stakeholders, the public and indeed our partners at the international copyright community. I wish to use this opportunity to reassure all stakeholders and the public of the commitment of the Commission to ensuring that justice is done in this case. “I wish to commend the media for its support of our anti-piracy campaign and in particular the wide publicity accorded this trial since its commencement. I also commend our stakeholders, particularly those in the Nigerian Music Industry Coalition who have been steadfast in their support and encouragement of this bold step to ensure that institutionalised copyright abuse is brought to a halt. “In the same vein, I must express the Commission’s confidence in the judicial system, in spite of what appears to be a temporary setback. We have no doubt whatsoever that the court will do justice to this case, as has been done in earlier cases brought before it by the Commission. “The Commission will continue the strategic pursuit of its regulatory and enforcement mandate, integral to which is the prosecution of pirates to give effect to government’s policy of zero tolerance of piracy across the country. “We solicit the continuing cooperation of all stakeholders, the media and indeed the public to ensure that we achieve our goal of making creativity and investment in the copyright industry, a major revenue earner for the economy.” Click the link below to go to ... Bringing ‘Alaba King of Pirates' to book
e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
loading...