MDA Ojo, Lagos State Coordinator Nigerian Copyright Commission

The Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) has said that the Alaba International Market in Lagos is still a thriving piracy hub. According to it’s Lagos State Coordinator, Matthew Ojo, the commission retrieved 60,000 copies of pirated films from there as recently as October.

“The copies are still in my office in Ebute Metta,” he said while speaking at the Publishers Forum session, hosted by the Goethe Institut as part of the Lagos Books And Arts Festival (LABAF). “Alaba is such a volatile place. For the operation, we didn’t go in. We stayed outside and laid an ambush for them.”

In the gathering were publishers, book sellers, authors editors and journalists.

Speaking further, he said the Commission also seized more than 30,000 cartons of pirated books at a warehouse in Abule-Osun, comprising books of various titles approved for use in primary and secondary schools.

“The pirates have their own catalogue. They know the recommended texts on the schools syllabus,” he added. “As I speak, we have red flagged some containers at the ports for inspection. We are working with Nigeria Customs Service in this respect.”

When asked why piracy is thriving and the Commission appears to be doing nothing about the theft of intellectual property, Ojo said it was doing the best it could within the limits of the resources available.

“I don’t want to say we are overwhelmed,’ he said. We don’t have enough personnel to police the entire country. For instance, we have roughly a staff strength of 500 nationwide and about 50 in Lagos. Of the Lagos staff, about 15 are in enforcement. The rest work in other departments.”

Ojo revealed that the Commissioned had recently sent a revised edition of the Copyright Act, signed into law in 1988, to the National Assembly for action. “The law at the time did not envisage the developments that have taken place since then, especially the internet and digital publishing. The revised version has taken these and more into account, including the necessary punishment for offenders,” he said.

Publishers and editors discuss the highs and lows of the publishing industry in Nigeria at Goethe Institut, Lagos