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Regulator goes tough on video pirates, destroys illicit products worth millions

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Alhaji Adebayo Thomas. Photo: nigeriamonthly

In a renewed war against illicit activities of pirates, the National Film and Video Census Board (NFVCB) last weekend destroyed pirated and unclassified videos and compact discs worth over N600 million. The exercise, which was conducted by the enforcement unit of NFVCB, in collaboration with the Nigeria Police Force and the Federal Fire Service, was held at Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) Dumpsite.
  
Led by the Executive Director of the board, Alhaji Adebayo Thomas, also at the site were the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Adamu and Controller-General of Federal Fire Service, Dr. Liman Alhaji Ibrahim, who was represented by the Director of Entertainment and Creative Services, Mr. Augustus Babajide Ajibola, Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Training and Development, AIG David Folawiyo and Chief Superintendent of Fire, Mr. Ashafa respectively.
 
According to Thomas, the exercise marked the official declaration of anti-piracy war across the country. Worried by the rate of piracy in the country, Thomas stated that the destroyed products were confiscated only in FCT and environs, an indication that the country is losing billions of naira annually to creativity’s thieves. He partially blamed the situation on ‘careless producers’ who surrender their creative works to individuals before getting the board’s censorship.
 
“Rather than bring their works to be censored, they give them out to people who do not value intellectual property,” he said.
 
He, however, noted that with the ongoing resolve to stem the tide, offenders could only run but could not hide, as the hands of law would definitely catch up with them.
 
According to him, “If they hear of this exercise and decide to hide, there is no problem. It also means that they cannot sell the copies. We have started today and we are not going to stop until the menace is curtailed.”
 
Commending the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force in ensuring the success of the exercise, he revealed that 150 members of staff were trained at three Police Training Colleges: Enugu, Kaduna, and Lagos.
 
He said: “We needed to build the capacity of our staff to take actions further. At our critical moment when we needed the support and back up of security agencies, we reached out to the Inspector General of Police and he did not hesitate to promptly issue directives. It is this support that has led to the success of the board and the Federal Government at large.”
 
As part of efforts to address the situation, Thomas admonished producers to take advantage of the Ease of Doing Business policy of the present administration by coming forward personally to effect the censorship of their works.
 
In his remarks, Mr. Ajibola expressed the need to stop pirates so that creators of works could get their deserved compensation, saying it would also encourage investments in the creative industry.
 
NFVCB has conducted raids, seizures, and torching of illicit videos in the past. This exercise only added to the efforts of the board in encouraging and ensuring investors in the creative industry enjoy a return on their investments. The unrelenting activities of unlicensed agents and distributors gave rise to the reconstitution of the National Task Force on Unapproved movies in 2017 with the support of the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Nigeria Police Force.


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