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Senate moves against piracy, seeks stiffer punishment for copyright violators

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The Senate on Tuesday commenced amendment of Nigeria’s copyright laws in a direction that seeks stiffer punishment for violators and persons involved in piracy.

The move to amend the country’s copyright laws followed the consideration of a bill to that effect which seeks to repeal and re-enact the Copyright Act 2004.

The bill which scaled second reading during plenary is sponsored by Senator Abiru Mukhail Adetokunbo (APC, Lagos East).

Leading the debate on the general principles of the Copyright (Repeal and are-enactment) Bill 2021, Adetokunbo said the legislation under consideration seeks a holistic review of the policy and legal framework for copyright protection in Nigeria.

According to the lawmaker, creative industries such as Nollywood, the broadcasting and music industry, the fashion industry, the book publishing industry, the art industry, and Nigeria’s emerging software and Apps industry, have been emaciated by what he described as “a weak” Copyright Act, 1988 (as amended).

“Many Nigerian businesses have disappeared and many Nigerian creators have died because of the harm occasioned by piracy and the weak mechanisms offered by the existing legal framework and successive government’s inability to sufficiently fund the Nigerian Copyright Commission”, Adetokunbo said.

He explained that stakeholders in the Nigerian copyright community have called for the amendment of the copyright law in line with new technologies and penalties.

The lawmaker observed that despite stakeholders’ demand, there has been no follow up action in terms of amendments to the Copyright Act 1988 which was promulgated in 1999, under the military regime more than twenty-two years ago.

“More significantly, the emergence of digital technologies revolutionized the creative economy as production and dissemination of creative works became more accessible and lent themselves to global exploitation beyond national boundaries,” he added.

Citing Section 16 (1) (a), of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the lawmaker emphasised that it is the responsibility of government to promote national prosperity and an efficient, dynamic and self-reliant economy.

Adetokunbo stressed that the passage of the Copyright Bill would ensure compliance by government to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as well as impact positively on the country’s employment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures.

He explained further that given Nigeria’s significant contribution to the creative and innovative industries globally, same underscores the country’s potentials in the international market.

“The international community has acknowledged the quality Nigerian creative talents through international nominations and awards such as Oscars and Grammys.

“Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria sometime back underscores the potentials of Nigeria’s software industries.

“Nigeria’s sports industry cannot grow if broadcast rights and other copyright and intellectual property rights are not promoted.

“Piracy of Nigerian creatives has devastated businesses, harmed consumers and acted as a disincentive to foreign direct investments”, Adetokunbo lamented.

“In Nigeria, the position of the country as Africa’s largest market for copyrighted works has given us a bad name in the international community as the major hub of the global digital and software piracy. The passage of this Bill into law will correct this”, the lawmaker said.

While calling for the passage of the bill, the lawmaker said the bill would, amongst others, strengthen the copyright regime in Nigeria to enhance the competitiveness of its creative industries in a digital and knowledge-based global economy.

He added that it would also effectively protect the rights of authors to ensure just rewards and recognition for their intellectual efforts while also providing appropriate limitations and exceptions to guarantee access to creative works, encourage cultural interchange and advance public welfare.

In addition, Adetokunbo said the bill would facilitate Nigeria’s compliance with obligations arising from relevant international copyright treaties; and enhance the capacity of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for effective administration and enforcement of the provisions of the Copyright Act.

After consideration, the bill was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the the Joint Committees on Trade and Investment; and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

The Joint Committee is expected to report back within four weeks.

In a related development, a bill for an Act to amend the Public Complaints Commission Act 2004 also passed second reading in the Senate on Tuesday.

The bill which is sponsored by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North East) was referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to report back in four weeks.

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Buhari Pledge to Rescue Kaduna Train Attack Hostages

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured to rescue 31 hostages taken in a train attack and return them “safe and unhurt”, his office said, five months after their abduction.

Gangs of bandits with no ideological or religious motives are known to kidnap for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria.

On March 28, armed men blew up a train travelling between Abuja and Kaduna and opened fire, killing eight people, wounding 26, and taking an unspecified number of passengers hostage.

A week later, they freed one hostage — a top bank executive — as a goodwill gesture for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, because of his “advanced age”.

Dozens of hostages have already been freed following negotiations, but 31 remain in the kidnappers den.

“I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers,” Buhari told representatives of the families of the hostages in Abuja on Thursday.

He said his government would ensure the safe return of the remaining hostages to their families.

“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt,” he assured.
The president commended the security forces on recent successes against kidnappers and “terrorists”.

“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and a number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop, or reduce,” he said.

“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country,” he said.

“Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand,” he added.

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja
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The Nigerian Army on Thursday buried five members of the Guards Brigade killed by bandits during a clearance operation in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

The soldiers were laid to rest at the Guards Brigade Cemetery, Maitama , Abuja, according to a statement by Guards Brigade spokesperson, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa

Among the deceased was Captain Attah Samuel.

“Until their demise, the gallant soldiers were serving with 7 Guards Battalion, Lungi Barracks Maitama and 176 Guards Battalion Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja respectively,” the statement said.

“While reading the funeral oration of the deceased officer and soldiers, the Commanding Officers of 7 Guards Battalion Lt Col Salim Yusuf Hassan and Commanding Officer 176 Guards Battalion, Lt Col Joshuah Kolowale Adisa described the late Captain and Soldiers as thoroughly bred Infantrymen who were genuinely committed to their duties in defence of Nigeria and whose contribution and services would be greatly missed.

“They asked God to console the families left behind stressing that while the Brigade and the Nigerian Army mourns, the families should take solace in the fact that they have fought a just fight and their souls shall continue to rest with the lord till the resurrection morning.

“Highpoint of the event was the presentation of accoutrements by the representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen James Alilu Ataguba to the next of kins of the deceased personnel and lowering of the remains of the fallen heroes.

There was also the blowing of the last post and gun salute to bid the departed heroes fair well

“The burial process started with Christian wake keep and funeral service held in honour of the fallen heroes at St John’s Military Church (Protestant) before the final Internment at the Guards Brigade Cemetery Maitama Abuja.

“The solemn ceremony was witnessed by senior officers of the Nigerian Army, Commanding Officers, Staff Officers of the Brigade, Bwari Area Council Chairman, Hon John Gabaya as well as family members and the barracks community.”

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Two More ISWAP Terrorists Linked To Owo Church Attack Arrested – DHQ

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor
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Two more Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists linked to the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, have been arrested.

Gunmen had on June 5 stormed the Catholic church, killing over 40 worshippers and injuring others.

The incident drew widespread condemnation, with President Muhammadu Buhari ordering security agencies to arrest the attackers.

On June 9, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, blamed the attack on ISWAP, but the claim was countered by Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Just yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, announced that the gunmen behind the attack on the church have been arrested.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Defence Information, Jimmy Akpor, said the two suspected ISWAP fighters were arrested through the collaborative effort of the military and the Department of State Services (DSS).

“Recall that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, during his parley with media executives and editors yesterday, Tuesday 9 August 2022, informed of the arrest of 4 terrorists among those who carried out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022,” Akpor said.

“They were arrested through a combined operation by military and DSS personnel at Eika, Okehi LGA, Kogi State on 1 August 2022.

“Those arrested include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.

“Barely few hours after the disclosure by the CDS of the arrest of 4 of the Owo Catholic Church attackers, 2 additional ISWAP terrorists, who were also connected to the attack on the church were apprehended at Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA, Ondo State yesterday, 9 August 2022.

“The arrests were made through the collaborative effort by military and DSS personnel. The suspects are Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris.

“It is instructive to note that Abdulhaleem, alongside other high profile ISWAP commanders, had also previously coordinated attacks on military targets in Okene, Okene LGA, Kogi State resulting in casualties.”

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