Pirates torch police van, 4 held

  • Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - By SOLA BALOGUN
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But for the courage and determination of copyright inspectors and a team of anti-riot mobile policemen, a major attempt by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to clampdown on pirates of musical works at the popular Alaba International market in Lagos would have ended up a failure yesterday.

At the end of the raid which lasted about an hour, the NCC succeeded in raiding the shops and ended up seizing thousands of CDs while four of the pirates who proved stubborn were also arrested.

The NCC inspectors and mobile policemen drawn from Police Command unit, Ikeja stormed the market in a convoy at about 11.30 am in company of journalists, and quickly swung into action.

The policemen took possession of the Abuja plaza segment of the market and ordered inspectors to seize the pirated CDs and VCDs. While this exercise was on, some of the inspectors tried to force open a few shops that were locked. But this seemed to have infuriated some of the traders who joined their colleagues to mount serious resistance. They made efforts to stop the raid, by throwing stones at the police or attacking them physically in a bid to prevent them from seizing their wares.

Having noticed this resistance, the policeman released tear gas apparently to chase the traders away but some of the traders put up a stiff resistance, shouting and making moves to attack the team with dangerous weapons. Within a shortwhile, the traders appeared to have gained more confidence when they attacked the two police trucks and succeeded in torching one of them.

At this point, the police advised the NCC staff and journalists to join the convoy and vacate the market immediately. But the traders were not done yet, as they swooped on the burning truck and razed it down completely. The team of raiders and journalists had to run for their lives but the seized CDs and VCDs and the arrested pirates were moved to the Lagos office of the NCC for further interrogation.

Shortly after the raid, Mr Adeambo Adewopo, Director General of the NCC told journalists that the traders’ resistance was a proof of their defiance and their resolve to continue to pirate works of musicians and artistes. He however hinted that the resistance would not discourage the NCC from pursuing its goals especially by implementing the Strategic Plan Against Piracy (STRAP). Said Adewopo: "We are determined to rid the industry of piracy as a move to fulfill our mandate.

Again, we have established our position to confront piracy which has eaten deep into the fabrics of the entertainment sector and left the creative industry seriously plundered. In fact the level of piracy at Alaba and other notorious markets in Lagos has become unacceptable. So the challenge before everyone, including journalists and the public is to mount the campaign against pirates of creative works."

Explaining further, Adewopo said his commission would not be deterred by the resistance by Alaba traders, rather, " We shall continue to carry out our enforcement to ensure that the multi-billion naira entertainemnt industry is not held hostage by pirates."

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