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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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Akpabio’s Comment On N30bn To Govs Misconstrued – Eyiboh

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Senate President Godswill Akpabio’s statement that Governors recently received N30billion from the federal government to cushion the effects of hardship was misconstrued, his spokesman, Hon Eseme Eyiboh has said.

Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom) denied receiving such amounts.

Eyiboh, in a statement in Abuja, said the Senate President holds Governors in high esteem.

He said Akpabio urged the “sub-national governments not to be distracted by any misunderstanding of the context and true meaning of the statement.”

The statement reads: “The office of the President of the Senate has been drawn to various misconceptions in the public domain on the statement credited to the President of the Senate in plenary of Wednesday, February 21, 2024, during the presentation of a report of the joint Committees on Finance, Agriculture/Food Sufficiency, Banking and Insurance.

“During the session the President of the Senate commented on the payment of an unverified cumulative sum of about N30billion to the sub-national governments by the Federal Government for various interventions to ameliorate the food situation of our citizens at the sub-national governments.

“The unfortunate conjectures to take away the kernel in the material facts of FAAC payment are rather regretted.

“In considering the well-intended motive of urging State Governments to collaborate with the Federal Government of President Bola Tinubu to facilitate strategic interventions to mitigate the prevailing economic situation in the country remains the underpinning motivation in the comment.

“The President of the Senate is not oblivious to the fact that State governments are functional partners in all the efforts of the current administration of President Bola Tinubu and are also valuable stakeholders in the various legislative engagements of the legislature in creating the nexus between the legislature and the people.

“The President of the Senate has always demonstrated commitment to team building and shall not do less in the circumstance.

“He therefore urges the sub-national governments not to be distracted by any misunderstanding of the context and true meaning of the statement.

“The President of the Senate recognizes and appreciates the current efforts of the governors at ameliorating the adverse effects of the current inclement socio-economic environment and therefore invites more hands on the plow to complement the renewed hope agenda.”

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Hardship: Afenifere Begs Yoruba Race Not To Join Protest Against Tinubu

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The leader of the Pan Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, has appealed to Nigerians, especially from the South West states, against the planned nationwide protest against President Bola Tinubu-led federal government amid the hardship Nigerians are currently experiencing.

Fasoranti who made this appeal, in a statement personally signed by him, lamented over the current economic crisis in the country, describing it as unfortunate, and urging Nigerians to endure the hardship for tomorrow’s prosperity.

The Afenifere leader said, “As the National Leader of Afenifere, and leader of the Yoruba, I address all and sundry today with a deep understanding of the challenges our dear country is going through at this critical time. The outcry over the hardship, hunger, and price hikes is not unexpected.

“However, we must come to terms with the realities of our national challenges, which the present administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is striving to resolve.

“While acknowledging the hardships faced by our people, it is important to recognize that these economic measures, although difficult, are part of a larger strategy aimed at restoring economic prosperity and stability to Nigeria.

“The government’s commitment to implementing these measures is a testament to its dedication to addressing the root causes of our economic challenges, inherited from the ills of the previous years”

He said “As a responsible leader, I appeal to every Yoruba man and woman, young and old, and our fellow citizens across the nationalities, to exercise patience and refrain from engaging in protests or actions that may escalate tensions.

“Understandably, the immediate impact of Tinubu’s economic reforms is challenging to everyone, but it is crucial to give the government the necessary time to realize the intended benefits”

Attributing the current economic hardship to the removal of fuel subsidy and has done great damage to the nation’s economy, saying “It is important to note that the removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the Naira is not undertaken lightly, as we all know the great damage done to our national prosperity through the nefarious activities of the agents of darkness within the oil and financial sectors.

“These measures by the Federal Government, though painful in the short term, are designed to create a more sustainable economic environment that will benefit us all in the long run. It requires collective understanding and resilience from every citizen as we navigate through these challenging times.

“We cannot afford a preference for the euthanasic approach of painless death of our nation, where we are propped up with loans and subsidies until a total collapse into a failed nation, while we have the opportunity of painful healing through treatment with multiple surgeries that will guarantee not just our survival, but restored health, vigor, and thriving life. We must endure today’s hardship for tomorrow’s prosperity”

He, however, appealed to Nigerians to give Tinubu more time and engage in constructive criticism that can contribute towards the development of the country.

“I implore you to trust in the government’s commitment to the welfare of our nation. Let us engage in constructive dialogue and contribute positively to the ongoing economic reforms.

“Join me in appealing for unity and understanding among our people. Together, we can weather this storm and emerge stronger as a nation.

“I want to assure you as the Leader of Afenifere, that we are actively engaging with the government at different levels to address the concerns of our people. Let us remain steadfast, patient, and united in the face of these challenges, confident that our collective resilience will pave the way for a more prosperous future”
Recall that last Thursday, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the president-general of Ohanaeze, similarly appealed to the Igbo groups not to protest against the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

The Ohanaeze in a communique issued after an emergency meeting asked the people of the southeast to “invoke the indomitable Igbo spirit of brotherliness and hard work” during the period of economic hardship.

The group urged south-east governors and traditional rulers to take “advantage of the upcoming farming season to catalyze massive agricultural production for sustainable food security” in the zone.

Ohanaeze added that since the apex court in the country has ruled on the 2023 presidential election, the group has decided to support the administration of Tinubu.

“We reviewed with intense passion, the level of unemployment, poverty, hardships, especially the rising cost of goods and services in Nigeria, the rate of depreciation of Nigerian currency, and the excruciating effect on the masses; and reminded Ndigbo that they should quickly readjust themselves to the reality of the times and that the Igbo have passed through the worst of conditions in the past,” the communique reads.

“There is no better time than now to invoke the indomitable Igbo spirit of brotherliness, hard work, ingenuity, wisdom, resilience, inventiveness, perseverance, and capacity to turn adversities into diverse opportunities

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FG To Implement Oronsaye Report

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..To Scrap Many Agencies, Merge Others

In a landmark decision, President Bola Tinubu has approved the implementation of the age-long Oronsanye report.

This is one of the decisions taken at this Monday’s meeting of the federal executive council, at the state house.

The report submitted by the Oronsanye committee under the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2012 has endured successive administrations without implementation.

By Implication, some federal agencies would either be scrapped, merged or relocated.

A committee to be headed by the Secretary to the Government of the federation is to work out the modalities for implementation.

 

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