Seven suspected book pirates arraigned in court

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Seven book piracy suspects arrested during an enforcement operation by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) have been arraigned for prosecution at the Federal High Court 1, Umuahia, Abia State.

The defendants, Emmanuel Onyejekwe, Ifeanyi Okoro, Ejike Alozie, Emenike Owunna, Ihueze Kyrian, Ebuka Emecheta and Echezona Nwachukwu, were arraigned on 9th October 2020 before Hon. Justice E. N. Anyadike on different counts of criminal infringement of the Copyright Act 2004.

The seven defendants pleaded not guilty to their charges while the eighth accused person, one Nnadozie Igwe, was yet to be served.

A three-count charge was proffered against four of the defendants, Emmanuel Onyejekwe, Ifeanyi Okoro, Ejike Alozie and Emenike Owunna: importation of infringing copies of literary works in which copyright subsists without authorisation  contrary to section 20(1),(b) of the Copyright Act, 2004; selling, exposing or offering for sale infringing copies of works in which copyright subsists, contrary to section 20(2)(a) of the Copyright Act, 2004, and being in possession, other than for private or domestic use infringing copies of works in which Copyright subsists – contrary to section 20(2)(c) of the Copyright Act, 2004.

The others, Ihueze Kyrian, Ebuka Emecheta and Echezona Nwachukwu were arraigned on a two-count charge of selling, exposing or offering for sale infringing copies of work in which copyright subsists, contrary to section 20(2) (a) of the Copyright Act, 2004, and being in possession, other than for private or domestic use infringing copies of works in which Copyright subsists – contrary to section 20(2) (c) of the Copyright Act, 2004.

The accused were however granted bail with two sureties each. Hearing in the cases of involving Emmanuel Onyejekwe, Ifeanyi Okoro, Ejike Alozie and Emenike Owunna was adjourned to November 5, 2020 while the one involving Ihueze Kyrian, Ebuka Emecheta and Echezona Nwachukwu was adjourned for trial on 24th November 2020.

The commission said in a statement that the arraignment of the accused was a follow-up action to NCC’s anti-piracy raid carried out in Aba, Abia State on October 8, 2019 during which eight book piracy suspects were arrested.

It stated that 35, 000 suspected pirated books valued at N70 million were impounded during the enforcement operation.

The seizures were mostly educational books being titles of almost all the educational publishing companies in Nigeria, including Macmillan, Learn Africa, Africana First, Metropolitan, Lantern, Universal Publishers Plc and Spectrum books.

On the completion of investigation, the Commission filed charges against the eight defendants on June 29, 2020 at the Federal High Court, Umuahia, Abia State.

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