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PIRACY: LIKE ALABA, LIKE ELEGUSHI

Source: nigeriafilms.com

ALABA International Market, Lagos, Nigeria is popularly referred to as the hub of piracy activities in the West Africa sub region. However, another market in Lekki area of Lagos, Elegushi International Market, appears to be chasing, and fast too, Alaba, for the top prize of the biggest piracy market.

In the last three years, both Copyright Inspectors from the Nigerian Copyright Commission and the National Film and Video Censors Board, NFVCB had raided the notorious market. It does not take up to a month before the 'traders' shrug off the loss and go back to business. Last week, the sellers suffered another huge loss running into over N500 million naira when again Copyright Inspectors from the NCC raided Elegushi and carted away CDs, VCDs and DVDs suspected to be pirated.

It is one of the biggest anti-piracy raids in recent times. The NCC officials perhaps aware of the expected haul at the market arrived the place at about noon with about four trucks, aside commercial buses otherwise called Danfo. Unlike other raids, where the officials would go with a handful of mobile policemen, the Elegushi raid had about 50 heavily armed and fierce looking mobile cops. It is certain that the dealers in suspected fake CDs had scouts stationed at the entrance to the adjoining streets leading to the market. Expectedly, they had vanished into thin air before the raid party arrived. One of them, who wanted to lock up his shop before taking to his heels was however not lucky. He was apprehended and taken into custody.

It took quite some time for the team to load up the trucks and the van with the suspected fake copyright works. Midway into the rigorous exercise, a mild drama occurred when the Iyaloja (mother of the market) came on and was berating the NCC officials for disturbing the "peace" of her market. Even with the mountain of works of foreign and local artistes, the middle-aged woman was insisting that none of her 'subjects' deal on pirated materials. A ridiculous display of ignorance!

Mr. Bayo Aiyegbusi, who led the team, said the raids are in line with the commission's Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP) initiative and it would not relent in its efforts aimed at sanitising the sector "and ensuring that copyright owners enjoy the fruits of the labour."

The commission can do more than that. Now that Elegushi had not grown as big as Alaba, this is the time to intensify its efforts in stemming the tide of piracy there. It can be closed down, but a thriving market in art works goes on at Elegushi, so what NCC needs to be done is to ensure that a regular raid is carried out on the market. This would put the traders on edge.