Okafor’s Law theft saga: Legal tussle begins

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By Innocent Anaba
A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, ordered advance service of court processes in a suit against Nollywood producer, Omoni Oboli, over copyright infringement on the movie “Okafor’s Law,” on other parties to the suit.

The trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, ordered that advance copies of processes be served on counsel to the other defendants by email, so as to ensure that the justice of the case is achieved in good time.

It would be recalled that Justice Buba had on March 24, granted an interim order, stopping the premiere of the said “Okafor’s Law” scheduled to hold on the evening of same day.

The ex-parte order, halted the planned premiere of “Okafor’s Law” at the IMAX Cinema in Lagos. The order also restrains the release of the film scheduled for March 31.

The judge issued the orders, following an ex-parte motion by a company Raconteur Production Ltd, on behalf of a Canada based script writer, Mr Jude Idada, seeking same reliefs.

Defendants in the suit are Dioni Visions Entertainment Ltd, Omoni Oboli, and The Filmone Ltd. The court had issued the orders, suspending the release and launch of the film, in any movie theatre or cinema house on March 31, pending the determination of a motion on notice before the court.

The judge had also issued an Anton piller Order (order to enter and seize) to seize all copies, materials, projections or infringing materials, relating to the subject matter. At the hearing of the matter, yesterday, Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, announced appearance for the first and second defendants. Mr. Yomi Awotunde appeared for the third defendant, while Mrs. O Otudor appeared for the plaintiff.

Addressing the court, Otudor said that she had received the counter affidavit of the first and second defendants, but was yet to receive any processes from the third defendant. She told the court that counsel to the first and second defendant had just served their counter affidavit on her in the courtroom, adding that she required time to study and respond to same.

She urged the court to grant adequate time to allow the plaintiff file a reply. On his part, Alegeh asked the court to order a speedy hearing of the motion on the grounds that the ex-parte orders had stalled the premiering of the film on March 24.

He noted that the movie had been premiered in Toronto and Stockholm in 2016, adding that its launch had been billed for March 31 (Friday), and so, a speedy hearing of the motion on notice would be eminent.

In a short ruling, Justice Buba abridged time for hearing of the motion on notice, to March 30, adding that he was concerned with achieving the justice of the case. Buba directed plaintiff’s counsel to ensure that advance copies of its processes are served on the defence by email, so as to ensure that the motion is heard without hindrances and adjourned till March 30 for hearing of the suit.

Idada lays claim to the film “Okafor’s Law” as his intellectual property and had accused Oboli of copyright infringement. He added that she had stolen his story idea for the movie in September 2016, adding that Oboli took the work he had done regarding “Okafor’s Law,” and developed it without giving him due credit.

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