THREE booksellers have been arrested and suspected pirated books worth about N5m were impounded by operatives of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) during an enforcement operation at the Garki Modern Market in Abuja. In a renewed drive to rid the markets of pirated books and enforce respect for copyright, the operatives, backed by armed policemen, on December 14, 2021, stormed bookshops in the market and apprehended those found to be selling suspected pirated books. Preliminary reports show that about 907 infringing copies of religious, motivational and educational titles belonging to various publishers were among the seizures.
In a release made available to the media by the Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Vincent A. Oyefeso, those arrested are Mr. Ifeanyi Udensi of Anyibest Bookshop, Mr. Ugwu Henry of Tonydon Bookshop and Mr. Chinedum Udeagha of Chinedum Bookshop.
The titles seized include New General Mathematics for Senior Secondary, Book 3, Modular English, Book 5, by Evans; Nigerian Primary English, Pupil, Book 4, by Learn Africa; National Common Entrance Examination, English and Verbal Aptitude by Ugo C. Ugo. Others are Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary; Harrap Paperback French Dictionary; Islamic Studies for Senior Secondary Schools, Book 3 by University Press Plc; Christian Religious Studies and National Values for Primary School, Book 1; Rope of Allah, Book 4; Living as God’s Children, by African University Press Plc., and Bibles.
Speaking on the anti-piracy raid, NCC’s Director of Operations, Mr. Obi Ezeilo described the operation as a major hit on book piracy in Abuja. He said the anti-piracy operation followed tip-offs by right owners, intensified intelligence gathering and surveillance by the commission’s operatives.
He indicated that the commission has commenced further investigation with a view to prosecuting the suspects. Mr. Ezeilo noted that the impact of the operation was enormous, considering that beyond the market value of the seizures, the confiscation of contrivances would further disrupt the distribution chain of pirated works.
Renewing the commission’s resolve to continually disrupt illicit business chains in all sectors of the creative industry, Mr. Ezeilo warned all those involved in copyright piracy as publishers, printers, distributors or retailers to desist.
According to him, “It is no more business as usual. There is no more hiding place for pirates as the commission is determined to take its enforcement drive to every market, shop and business area where copyright works are being exploited.”
Calling on the public to support the commission’s efforts to curb copyright piracy in the country, Ezeilo noted: “The acts of distributing pirated books is a crime; it is copyright piracy. All pirates, irrespective of their level of involvement, are advised to stay away from this illicit trade. Piracy is theft. It is a crime against humanity and the commission is determined to deploy all resources to fight piracy.
“We hope that as we are interrogating the suspects, we will gather more intelligence about the kingpins. However, as we keep telling them, they have to stay away from piracy. It is no justification that some other persons have done it or are doing it, or that you are being supplied the copyright infringing books when you know that it is an offence. Stay away from piracy because the commission will not condone it.”