A week after the Nigerian Copyright Commission carried out a night raid on three optic disc plants in Lagos, its Zonal Manager, Lagos Operational Office, Mr. Emeka Ogbonna,
has given details of the experience the team had at Akina Music International Limited, caught in the process of illegal mass production of suspected pirated products.
Three people, including the Managing Director, Mr. Sook Allen, a Chinese national from Hong Kong were arrested at the company formerly called Benrit Outlook Ltd, Ogbonna said.
According to the NCC official, the team had a tough time before it could gain entry into Akina’s premises in the course of the raid carried out with mobile policemen between 11 pm and 5am.
“We were refused entry for over one hour,” Ogbonna said. “But because we knew work was going on in the factory, we stood our ground in front of the gate. What we also later found out was that apart from the fact that the Akina staff did not want us to gain access into the premises, they also used the time to clear and conceal items of the illegal operations they were involved in.”
Ogbonna added that but for the experience that guided the team, it would have been taken in by the Akina’s staff ploy.
“On gaining entry, we found that three out of the four installed replicating lines were running, ostensibly without the production of any optical disc products on sight. We saw that the machines were running. But all the CDs that were been replicated were not readily seen. And the workers too said they were not producing any job at the time. But, is it possible to be running the engine without cutting any CDs in that circumstance? That was how we launched into the search of every nook and cranny of the premises.”
The search revealed stowed-away, freshly produced suspected pirated products and stampers which were consequently confiscated.
Ã‚Â “Investigation is still on-going. Having made useful statement, the international passport of Akina’s MD, Sook Allen, has been confiscated while he has been released on bail on condition that he reports at three days’ interval for further investigation, until the case is charged to court for imminent prosecution,” Ogbonna said.
Musical and movie products on compact discs and video compact discs,said to be illegally replicated, were among the items seized at Akina. In a statement, the NCC said that the musicals were compiled mix of foreign and local works on each CD product. Among the confiscated products are the illegally replicated works belonging to D-Banj, Darey, Ikechukwu and several other local works that formed part of the variety of audio mix with a number of foreign works.Ã‚Â
“An inventory of impounded products signed by both parties includes over 20 stampers allegedly submitted by Akina’s clients for replication of protected works; 40 cartons of suspected pirated works, each of which contains 1,000 CDs; and 10 spindles of recorded works,” the statement signed by NCC Chief Publicity Officer, Vincent Oyefeso, added.
It said the optical discs plant which will soon be charged and prosecuted for piracy of copyright-protected works, is currently being prosecuted at a Federal High Court in Lagos for piracy of musical works and cinematograph films while noting that Akina had similarly been raided by the Commission about four years ago.
The Commission, following the report of high incidence of optical piracy, has recently released the Optical Discs Regulation (ODR) and consequently focused on regulation, monitoring and inspection of CD plants in order to check the illegal replication of millions of CDs, VCDs and DVDs being mass-produced and distributed into the market. This has brought the Commission headlong in collision with the replicating plants which had for years remained unregulated.
Ã‚Â Ogbonna, however, explained that no implicating items were found at the other two plants visited – Sky Media and Ecomax
The raids were executed in accordance with the Optical Discs Regulation 2006 as a compliance measure to enforce best practices in the optical discs production industry in order to curtail high incidence of piracy in Nigeria. There are at present 12 replicating plants registered with the Commission, and which have been brought under the ODR regime.