Three men suspected to be pirates of film and musical works were arrested at the popular Alaba Market in Lagos on Monday.
They were arrested during a raid carried out by the newly inaugurated task force on uncensored and unclassified movies by the National Film and Video Censors Board.
Notable marketer and member of the task force, Gabriel Okoye, aka Gabosky, led the raid. According to Mr. Okoye, the suspects are Ndu Celestine, Okechukwu Ikuagwu, and Austine Ugokwe.
Members of the task force were said to have clamped down on the suspects at about 1.30 a.m. at the Alaba Market.
Some of the movies that were seized include titles such as ‘Ayamma’, ‘Wedding Party’, ‘Three Wise Men’, ’30 Days in Atlanta’, ‘A Trip to Jamaica’, ‘Lekki Wives’, ‘Wives on Strike’, ‘Jennifer’s Diary’, and ‘Fifty’.
The raid led to the seizure and confiscation of films and replicating machines estimated to be worth over N50 million.
The suspects were then taken to Area E Police Station Festac Town, Lagos, where they are currently being interrogated.
This is the first time that an anti-piracy raid will be carried out at the notorious Alaba market-widely known to be the hub of pirates of intellectual properties including movies and music.
The clamp down, Mr. Okoye said, was a landmark achievement in the anti-piracy war in the Nigerian creative and entertainment sector.
He noted, “The activities of the pirates crumbled the distribution companies and the N500 million I had already collected from BoI; I could not pay back till date. The Bank is now trying to take over all my property which I used as collateral. So, this is a big win for Nollywood.”
In July, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, led a team to the Inspector-General of Police, to seek collaboration with the law enforcement agency in fighting piracy.
At the event, Mr. Okoye narrated how Nollywood pirates wrecked his company and left him bankrupt.
Mr. Okoye, who last shot a Nollywood movie in 2010, which is still yet to be released, said pirates wrecked his N1 billion company and left him bankrupt.
“The first job I had to distribute was Half of a Yellow Sun. But, before I could finish printing, pirates had released the fake copies of the film on the streets and sold them for little money.
The second job was, “30 Days in Atlanta’’ by AY; pirates also took over and distributed pirated copies of the films on the streets and AY was crying.
“The third was October 1, by Kunle Afolayan; I was in South Africa negotiating for ITS distribution when I was called and told that the film was already on the streets.”