The Federal High Court Lagos has convicted one Mr. Chimezie Chike, on a two-count charge of literary piracy and sentenced him to a fine of Eight Hundred Naira (N800.00) for both charges.
According to a report filed in by counsel to the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), M.A. Anabor, the accused was found guilty of breaching section 20(2)(a) and section 20(2)(a)of the Copyright Act Cap C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 by exposing and offering for sale four infringing copies of literary works and being in possession of four infringing copies of the works other than for private use, in a case instituted against him on May 20, 2015 by the Commission.
In the judgement delivered on November 29, 2016, the presiding judge Honourable Justice I.N. Buba dismissed an earlier preliminary objection raised by counsel to the defendant, Mr. Charles N. Sunday, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter for failure to observe the provisions of section 25 (1) of the Copyright Act, before the criminal charge was filed.
Justice Buba overruled the objection as baseless insisting that the prosecution is not bound to follow any particular procedure in obtaining evidence in proving its case. The Court agreed with all the arguments as canvassed by the prosecution and concluded that the guilt of the accused person was proved beyond all reasonable doubt.
The option of fine instead of an imprisonment term was deemed appropriate by the court which considered the fact that the accused person was a first time offender and an unemployed graduate.
Mr. Chike was arrested on September 12. 2014, when enforcement officers of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) raided his bookshop located at No. 23 Bale Street, Ajegunle, Lagos State, and seized several copies of infringing literary works.
Some of the affected works are:
• ‘How To Satisfy a Man’
• ‘Still Doing The Impossible’
• ‘Ideas Rule the World’.
Copyright subsists on the affected books in favour of the following publishers: Bibli O’ Phile Books; E.O. Overcomers & Co. Ltd; Destiny Image Publishing and Pneuman Publishing.