By Patrick Obia
Basic Right Counsel Initiative has threatened to sue Mr. Emmanuel Etim, Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State on Creative Economy, Mr. Finest Uwaoma, University of Calabar staff and others for intellectual piracy.
The NGO made the disclosure in a press statement signed by its Principal Counsel, James Ibor, Esq. and made available to our newsroom.
Release in details:
Sometime in April 2019, our organization, a Nigerian-incorporated nonprofit which has interests in child rights promotion and protection and social development, began the production of a documentary on DEBT BONDAGE AND MONEY MARRIAGE, a primitive culture practiced by a group of communities in northern Cross River State in Nigeria and part of the Republic of Cameroon. The culture forces female children into marriage and a lifetime of slavery from as early as the age of five or six.
We then contracted Jesse Unoh, a creative writer, editor and lawyer, to write a script for the documentary. Jesse teamed up with James Ibor, the founder and Principal Counsel of the organization, to write the documentary script. Armed with this, we set out to conduct interviews with survivors of Debt Bondage and Child Marriage/
Money Woman, their captor-husbands and other stakeholders. Our team included Mr. Finest Uwaoma, who is a cinematographer and film editor. On our return from the field trip, we handed over the work to Mr. Uwaoma for editing.
We were shocked to discover in November 2019 that Mr. Uwaoma had posted on Facebook what we initially thought was an abridged version of the documentary. It runs for nine minutes, fifty-nine seconds while the original version lasts about thirty minutes. He also posted it on Youtube. He had neither contacted our organization nor sought its permission. We also found out that Mr. Uwaoma had entered the documentary for a competition in Calabar known as the Benedict Ayade Film Contest. We contacted him and expressed our displeasure, threatening legal action over his infringement of our intellectual property if he did not take down the documentary from his Facebook wall and also withdraw it from the contest. He has done neither of these to date.
We have watched the film posted by Mr. Finest Uwaoma and are stunned that it is not an abridged version of our work at all but an audacious, egregious, violent and criminal copyright violation of our work. The pirated work mentions James Ibor and Uwaoma Sunday as writers, the latter of whom is obviously related to Mr. Finest Uwaoma, editor and director of the film. The producer is Theodora Etim, wife of Mr. Emmanuel Etim who is the Special Adviser to the Governor of Cross River State on the Creative Economy and one of the organizers of the Benedict Ayade Film Contest. What emerges from all this is that Mr. Emmanuel Etim, working in concert with Mr. Finest Uwaoma, produced a film and entered it in a contest that he helped organize with the sole aim of winning it and sharing the proceeds with his partner in crime – all while trampling on our copyright. This is beyond the pale.
We demand that Messrs Emmanuel Etim and Finest Uwaoma take down the pirated film from all social media. We respectfully call on Youtube to take down the film from its platform and also urge the organizers of the Benedict Ayade Film Contest to disqualify the film entered by Mr. Finest Uwaoma because it is a pirated work and the product of a criminal conspiracy to swindle CROSS RIVER STATE. Finally, we assert our ownership of the intellectual property in the documentary, “DEBT BONDAGE MONEY MARRIAGE: A SAGA OF CHILD BRIDES AND SLAVERY” and shall explore all legal options available to us to hold Messrs Etim and Uwaoma to account for their shockingly bad behavior.
JAMES IBOR ESQ.
Basic Rights Counsel Initiative.
When contacted for comment, Mr. Emmanuel Etim forwarded the directive by his boss, Sen. Ben Ayade directing all aids not to engage the media without approval.
After few minutes he forwarded the category flier which carries no winner. See it below.