Nollywood Voices | 11 July 2011 22:50 CET


By Lukmon Akintola

The story of how Nollywood movie producers are severally being robbed of their hard earned anticipated proceeds and copy right in the movie industry is no longer new. These tales abound of how producers have lost millions of naira to both pirates and saboteurs in the industry. However, in recent time, content providers such as Multi Choice Nigeria Limited and Electronic Media Network Limited (MNET) owners of DSTV seem to have joined this league of saboteurs and rippers. According to information reaching this magazine, DSTV has been dragged to court by a certain Nigerian movie producer identified as Joe Aihende who is based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Investigation by this reporter revealed that trouble started about four years ago when Joe Aihende and his company Motherland Ventures and General Services located at 58, Aerodrome Close, Off Ekewan Road, Benin City, Edo State also with a business office located at 29, Olufemi Street, Off Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, Lagos was approached with the intent of buying his movie titled “Check Point”. The plan then was for the producer to sell the broadcast right of his movie to DSTV, while they use it as content on their movie channels, amongst which is African Magic.

However, trouble started when Joe was informed by the management of DSTV that the movie would be broken into parts one and two. According to a reliable source, Joe Aihende did not like this idea and so he changed the initial agreement of selling the movie and returned to his base in Zurich, Switzerland. But Joe was to much later receive the shock of his life when friends in the country informed him that his movie had actually been aired on African Magic, one of the channels of DSTV. Joe however, revealed that he was astonished when he contacted Multi Choice on the development and was informed that the movie had actually been sold to them by Joe's duly authorized representatives one Toni Anih, working with the company name Africa Mega Entertainment and yet another guy, Andrew Ohirien Coker who actually sold the movie's broadcasting right for five years.

While the case is currently in court, DSTV is maintaining the stand that Anih, actually sold the movie to Multi Choice Nigeria Limited maintaining that if Joe had any problem he should sort it out with those he allegedly sold the movie to before relocating to his base. Reliable sources close to this magazine succinctly revealed that the whole trouble started on the 8th of September 2007, when DSTV broadcast the movie “Check Point”, produced by Joe Aihende without his permission.

The case which is currently in the Federal High Court, Ikoyi has suffered several set backs, with changes in judges during the long-drawn proceeding. Information available to this magazine revealed that the said broadcast was neither authorized nor consented to by Motherland Ventures, the producers of the movie. Another source, who has been watching the sour developments in court, revealed that while the case is currently in court, the defendants are allegedly bent on frustrating the producer by ensuring that the case is always adjourned any time they meet in court.

An associate of the producer revealed that Joe Aihende decided to drag Multi Choice Nigeria to court over the infringement of his copy right in the movie Check Point, when he realized that all of his anticipated earnings from the marketing of the movie had been lost. The producer is said to be suffering from emotional break down having obtained a huge loan from a bank in Zurich, Switzerland to prosecute the movie. Joe Aihende is currently indebted to the tune of 50,000 Swiss Francs to the earlier stated bank, GE Money Bank at Zurich, which was meant for effectively promoting the movie. Till date, Joe is still indebted to the bank and does not see a way out of the dilemma.

However, reacting to this development, via a legal document and evidences submitted in court, DSTV revealed that they had negotiated and acquired the broadcast rights of over 6,000 films and other such contents in Nigeria and across Africa in the past and that they usually rely on variety of documents when acquiring rights to films in Nigeria, including, but not limited to the censorship certificate or other documents from the National Censors Board, which has the name of the producer endorsed on it. In furtherance to their claims on the issue, DSTV revealed that it is a common thing to find producers relying on agents to collect monies on their behalf for the rights acquired regarding their content, which is typical of Joe Aihende's case.

In this case it was simple because after previewing the movie and had passed the test; they executed a contract with Mr. Tony Anih, as agent of and on behalf of the original copy right owner. DSTV however disputed the fact that the movie was shown severally stating that it was only aired on 8th of September before they received communication from Joe Aihunde's counsel, stating that the movie had been acquired illegally. However they were comforted when they contacted Mr. Anih who assured DSTV of his status and authority to license the film for flighting, as he even went further to issue them a letter to placate them, stating that it was from one Mr. Andrew Ohirien Coker, on behalf of the content owner stating that the issue would be resolved. Presently, DSTV is maintaining that they acquired the product properly and legally from Mr. Andrew and Mr. Tony, from whom they acquired the film and that Mr. Joe is actually not the owner, going by the records of the movie or the copy right owner.

According to a certain Segun Osinuga, the Operation Manager of MNET, on or about May, 2007 they were approached by Mr. Tony Anih, who informed them that he had the authority of the copy right owner of the movie titled “Check Point”, and offered same for broadcast. Segun revealed that Mr. Anih provided proof of ownership of the film and authorization of his representation from the content owner. Segun revealed that he was however surprised when on 8th September, 2007, his organization MNET received a letter saying that the movie had been acquired illegally and flighted in breach of his right. Segun believes that the title of the movie had actually been acquired properly and legally on the presentation of valid documents to the effect by Mr. Anih and Mr. Andrew Ohirien Coker, who had the express permission or implied authority of the producer to act in and on his behalf. Segun however stated that, if found liable to the plaintiff, his firm will claim all indemnity for all losses, damages and cost suffered, incurred or found against his organization from Mr. Tony Anih and Andrew Ohirien Coker.

During this magazine's investigation, we found out some interesting developments about the documents which were allegedly used in transacting the deals between MNET and Motherland Ventures. First, the letter of Memorandum of Understanding between Africa Mega Entertainment located at 52, Olatilewa Street, Ikate Surulere, Lagos and Motherland Ventures (MLV), Switzerland dated 31st, May, 2007, which was typed on a plain sheet of paper, raising doubts and questions of why the agreement was not signed under the letter-headed paper of either Motherland Ventures or that of Africa Mega Entertainment. Secondly, while Andrew Coker was able to present a letter, claiming to be the representative of Motherland Ventures, why wasn't he able to present a letter appointing him as their official representatives for such duties? However, as the drama continues to unfold, News of the People promises to give you details continually, as only time will tell when this whole issue will be resolved and at what cost to the parties too. It is indeed business gone sour for all the parties involved and only time will tell who actually is ripping who off

Joe Aihunde

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