Nigeria: Censors Board, JTF Arrest Illegal Film Operators

Regulation & Policy

The Joint Task Force (JTF), on Film and Video business, comprising the security agencies and the National Film and Video Censors Board, (NFVCB), have arrested illegal operators in three states across the country. A statement made available to ThisDay disclosed that the arrests were in made in Onitsha , Aba and Lagos in Anambra, Abia and Lagos States respectively.

The arrests according to the statement are part of the implementation of the Framework on Distribution and Exhibition of Video Works in Nigeria . The Board expressed its commitment to cleaning up the film and video market in Nigeria in line with its mandate and to ensure that these suspected illegal operators who are in the habit of flooding the market with pirated foreign films are identified and apprehended.

With the support of the agencies of law enforcement and deterrent, the Board says it is committed to ensuring that film and video business is safeguarded from the grip of all shadowy characters, money launderers and unpatriotic elements wherever they operate.

The fundamental duty of the regulator like the NFVCB is to make sure that businesses are subjected to transparent and lawful conducts, virtues that we suspect the persons apprehended are determined to undermine.

"It is the belief of the Board that those who have so far been arrested are the prime suspects who are deeply involved in the criminal activities enumerated above. These, no doubt, are clear economic crimes that in the film sector cost Nigeria $1billion annually in revenues. This is outside of the moral harm that the activities of these elements subject Nigeria to. No government will fold its hands and watch such level of criminality go unpunished,' the statement added.

The Joint Task Force, JTF, says it will continue its campaign across the country in the weeks ahead.

More suspects, no doubt will be apprehended and made to face the law. The majority of Nigerians who are interested in doing legitimate business in the film and video sector have complied with the provisions of the law by applying for, and receiving licenses. From the North, the South, the West and the East, these law abiding Nigerians are doing their businesses conscientiously and with purpose. When people are involved in criminality and do not want to subject their activities to transparent processes they will do everything to befuddle the issues. But the law cannot but come after them wherever they run to.

In the past 26 months the NFVCB has engaged all levels of stakeholders in fashioning out the Framework for licensing of Distributors and Exhibitors of film and video works in Nigeria . That process was completed and duly perfected last month, a development that brings into force the provision of the law that makes it a criminal offence to engage in exhibition of film and video works without a license from the Board.

The suspects are being charged with illegal distribution of film and video works, having failed to obtain a license from the NFVCB. The suspects will appear in court where they shall have the fair chance of defending themselves.

This Day (Lagos) 31 July 2008