NCC seizes 3 shipping containers, intercepts pirated books worth N300m

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) confiscated three shipping containers containing 3000 cartons of pirated books, with a conservative market worth of more than N300 million.

Dr. John Asein, the commission’s Director-General (DG), announced this in a press statement released to journalists on Sunday in Abuja.

Asein said the containers were intercepted at Onne Port , Rivers, in collaboration with NCC enforcement partners – the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Department of State Services (DSS) -.

The DG disclosed that the copyright of the pirated books belong to frontline Nigerian publishers: Africana First, Bounty Press, Evans, Learn Africa, Macmillan, Metropolitan and University Press Plc.

“Our main headache used to be with locally printed books which are easy to identify due to their poor production quality.

“But, we have since, seen a surge in the importation of pirated books, especially from Asia with quality, competing with their originals.

“Many of these pirates who are agents of foreign printers now have the audacity to come into Nigeria to scout for businesses.

“Sometimes they share lists of their pirated stock with prospective customers in Nigeria through rogue networks.
“In some cases, the imports are compromised, and the documentations doctored to deceive enforcement agencies,” he said.

The DG said many pirates were taking undue advantage of the zero duty on books, while unscrupulous importers make false declarations either to evade duty or as cover for smuggling.

He said, without undermining government’s policy on ease of doing business, the Commission is working with Customs to introduce the online pre-import certification scheme to check illicit imports of books and other copyright materials.

Asein alerted importers, clearing agents, booksellers and warehouse owners to carrying out due diligence when transacting book business and to always ensure proper documentation.

He said the commission would hold anyone found with copies of pirated books accountable and presumed to be complicit in the crime of piracy either as primary or secondary suspects.

The DG said, with the support of partnering agencies and the cooperation of right owners, NCC will, more than ever before, step up enforcement drive to decimate copyright piracy.

“Fortunately, Nigeria now has a stronger Copyright statute with stiffer penalties for criminal infringements.
“There are provisions allowing the Commission to seal premises, go after the proceeds of crimes and deal with suspected materials summarily.

“I am also pleased to note that the new Nigeria Customs Service Act, 2023, now expressly gives the Service powers to detain, arrest and seize any materials that infringes the Copyright Act,” he said.

The DG thanked the Customs, DSS and other stakeholders whose cooperation, according to him, made the seizure possible.

He assured that the seizure would send a clear message to importers of pirated copyright materials and other copyright predators on the resolve of Government to fight piracy on all platforms.

Asein also urged right owners to embrace proactive business solutions to make it easier for the consuming public and enforcement agencies to identify illicit materials..

He said they should take advantage of the border measure provisions under the laws and continue to share credible intelligence with the Commission.

Speaking on what the commission would do with the seized books, Emeka Ogbonna, NCC Director Legal, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview, thatvthe main suspects who imported the books had not been arrested.

He said the books were seized through their agents, contracted to clear the good from the port.

Ogbonna said the commission is working with the security agencies to effect their arrest, after which they would be prosecuted accordingly.

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