FILM MAKER DRAGS ZEB EJIRO BEFORE ASSOCIATION OF MOVIE PRODUCERS, OTHERS
In a two page petition, Zeb Ejiro who is currently aspiring to be president of Association of Movie producers (AMP) in Nigeria is being accused by Ibinabo Fiberesima, a member of the Actors' Guild of Nigeria (AGN), of selling her film; A Night in the Philippines to marketers and DSTV without her knowledge or permission.
In the petition which was addressed to the National President of AGN, Ejike Asiegbu and copied to six other guild heads and government agencies such as Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Directors' Guild of Nigeria (DGN), Screen Writers' Guild of Nigeria (SWGN), Nigerian Society of Cinematographers (NSC), Nigerian Society of Editors (NSE), and the Creative Designers Guild of Nigeria (CDGN), Nigerian film Corporation (NFC), Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the National Film and Video censors Board (NFVCB), Fiberesima, who is claiming that Zeb Ejiro was merely contracted as director of the movie, paints a story of deceit, denials and consequent claim of ownership by the former.
"I contracted Zeb Ejiro to direct the movie for me in far away Philippines in 2004 and after the shoot, I left him to complete the job without checks since he was the director," she said. "Then some time in 2005, I was informed by a close associate that Ejiro had altered the credit on the tape in his favour by removing my name and my company's name (AMC Productions Ltd) as executive producer and producer and replacing it with his own name and dubbing a different master tape which he sold to some one in America for $3,500. I confronted him but he denied it by assuring me that he was still editing the job and that he wanted to make it into a two parts movie."
She explained further: "In early 2006, I met him again and said I heard he wanted to release the movie into the market, this he also denied until later in the year when I found out that he had actually sold the film to a marketer. This time around when I accused him in early 2007, he told me point blank that I do not have any claim to the movie any more. Then of course on June 5 this year, I saw the movie being aired on Africa Magic (a DSTV Channel). I tried to call Zeb but he ignored my calls and thus I sent him a text."
Lamenting her painful experience, Fiberesima recounted how expensive it was to produce that film especially since it was shot in Philippines. "I paid Zeb to do the job; I paid for all the artistes on the job including script, visas, return tickets, hotel accommodation and other expenses for the three weeks that we stayed in Philippines."
Apparently, the fair complexioned lady got the shocker when she went to register the film with the Copyright Commission after she was handed a tape presumed to be the original master, after her first complaint. she pleaded with the relevant guilds to ensure that justice is done even as she revealed that another film of hers entitled Rebel Heart is still in the custody of the director. She said the movies cost her N6.6 million.
Meanwhile, Ejiro, in a telephone chat with Business Day on the issue, stated: "All I have to say is that she (Fiberesima) is not saying the truth, and she is a confused girl that needs help".
At an emergency meeting of the coalition of guild heads, the industry leaders condemned in totality, the treatment meted on the petitioner, describing it as not only criminal but dishonourable.
Present at the meeting which held at the Ojez Restaurant, National Stadium, Lagos were Ejike Asiegbu (AGN), Madu Chikwendu (AMP), Iyen Agbonifo (CDGN), Isah Abubakar (NSC) and Ben Onuegbu, National Provost (AMP).
The AMP president assured other guilds that the Association would conduct a Special Investigative Panel (SIP) to be headed by its national provost.
In a chat with Business Day on the issue, Chikwendu said: "I heard about it and I have set up a committee to look into it. We have a disciplinary committee who sees into such issues and they will not be partial about it, and any party that is found guilty will be punished accordingly. If it is Zeb Ejiro that is found guilty, he will be punished accordingly. Likewise, if it is Ibinabo Fiberesima, even if she is not guilty about the case but she is found to have some faults along the line she will be punished for it."