Nollywood actors and filmmakers have demanded that the popular Alaba market in Lagos notoriously known as the hub of piracy in Nigeria should be closed as the first step towards combating the deadly scourge of piracy in the country.
The actors told Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, to shut the market when they held a peaceful anti-piracy procession to the Lagos State House in Alausa, Ikeja.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, foremost filmmaker, Tunde Kelani, told the governor that the pirates are becoming bolder in their illicit acts and behaving as if they are above the law.
Kelani noted that in the past, pirates waited for producers to release their films before pirating it but the dangerous trend now is that the pirates illegally copy films still running at the cinemas and release it without the owners’ consent.
He called on the governor to help in every way he could to ensure that piracy is elevate to the level of serious crime like armed robbery, kidnapping and pipeline vandalism, as well as close the notorious Alaba market if necessary.
In his own contribution, Igwe Gabriel Okoye, popular movie distributor also known as Gabosky, told Governor Fashola that he has been the greatest victim of the latest onslaught as pirates now brazenly distribute, albeit illegally, most of his works which he has distribution rights including Kunle Afolayan’s Phone Swap and October 1, as well as other films such as Tango With Me.
He noted that piracy is an organised crime that needs a drastic action by government and he has consistently battled the pirates which he said are well-known within the Alaba market.
Gabosky pleaded with the governor to help save his business and sweat of other filmmakers from the hands of the pirates.
Lawyer and movie producer, Tunji Bamishigbin, in his own contribution told Fashola that given the importance of the creative industry to the socio-economic development of the state, piracy remains the “greatest threat to Lagos economy.”
The furious practitioners took to the streets to compel the government to do something promptly to arrest the menace, which they said could totally wreck their thriving industry.
The street protest was prompted by the vicious pirating of N200 million October 1 film recently released by Kunle Afolayan, with tens of thousands of its pirated copies flooding the streets of Lagos and other cities across Nigeria.
The protesting artistes took off from under the bridge in Ikeja, and moved through Obafemi Awolowo Way to Allen Junction. They made some seizures of pirated DVDs from unsuspecting hawkers, and stopped by at the Lagos State House of Assembly where they were received by a member, Mufutau Egberongbe, representing Apapa Constituency, who assured them that the next assembly with try all it could to push their demand for a review of laws concerning piracy.
Leaving the lawmakers, they finally met with Governor Fashola who came out of the state exco meeting to listen to the protesters.
While welcoming the practitioners, Fashola told them he sincerely identified with them at this period and assured them of his total support for the struggle to combat the piracy scourge.
He enjoined them never to be discouraged or give up the battle, noting that the scourge is not peculiar to Nigeria, yet everything must be done to deal with the menace.
Fashola advised the practitioners to sit down and come up with a team that will meet with him and articulate a common position on how to deal with the scourge in the next dispensation.
Kelani was appointed coordinator of the team that is expected to meet with the governor in a couple of days.