Chris Steven, Abuja
The Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) has accused Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture of plagiarizing its proposal that was presented to him under the name ‘Bar Coding Technology for the Creative Industry in Nigeria’ to organize a two-day conference on Creative Industry between July 17 and 18, 2017 in Lagos.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Counsel to PMAN in a five –page petition written to the Minister, dated July 20, 2017 asked the Minister to “desist forthwith from proceeding further the implementation of action plans or any item from the proposal pending when all issues arising from what it called manipulation of its original brainchild ideas and gross infringement on its intellectual property rights are resolved.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained on Wednesday by our reporter was marked received on July 24, 2017 by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
He warned that PMAN would not hesitate to take a legal action if at the expiration of 72 hours from the date of its receipt the Ministry continues to engage in programmes, activities and events that are apparent implementation of its original ideas expressed in the proposal and action plan contained in the Bar Coding Technology for the Creative Industry in Nigeria.
In the petition, the association said a delegation led by Pretty Okafor, its President made a presentation on August 5, 2016 to the Minister on how government will earn N10, 3trillion revenue in the creative industry if the proposal is implemented to the letter.
“In a power point presentation, widely reported and beamed live by respectable and notable media houses, our client itemized different model of solutions, on implementation of Bar Coding Technology for the Creative Industry in Nigeria.
Apparently realizing the urgent need to invest in this fertile innovative ideas, which had hitherto remained relatively alien and untapped, the government welcomed the ideas conveyed in our client’s proposal, and assured them of their readiness and preparedness to partner with them in the attainment of this noble goal” Ejiofor said in the letter.
The proposal, he further said contained in-depth study and statistical analysis of how the government will earn over N15 trillion revenue from the partnership and estimated N3.3 trillion of combined Value Added Tax (VAT) and income tax also accruable to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
According to him, the Minister assured PMAN delegation that the Federal Government would work with the association to stop piracy and provide the enabling environment for the creative industry to thrive.
“It was his further undertaken that the government would encourage the industry, and consequently acceded in principle to our client’s recommendation that November 30 should be set aside as National Piracy day. He finally told our client that his office will hold a press conference to announce the government’s commitment to fight piracy, protect creative assets and grow revenue on the sector”, he said
Ejiofor further stated that the Minister wrote a letter on October 13, 2016 with reference number IFMCT/ECS/104/C/1 titled “Letter of Partnership with the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) addressed to PMAN’s President in demonstration of government’s commitment and preparedness to explore the opportunity as another major source of revenue drive towards the diversification of the economy.
PMAN through its counsel said it was surprised when it received the news of a creative industry roundtable press conference held on July 10 at Renaissance Hotel, Ikeja where the Minister declared that a two day conference for the creative industry will hold in Lagos on July 17 and 18 at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos.
It is accusing the Minister of intellectual theft of a 13-week action plan it proposed to him on August 18, 2016 to constitute Creative Economy Conference and Anti-Piracy Committee (APC).
“Though the conference was deceptively tagged “creative industry financing conference”, it is our client’s firm belief that the conference was held in full implementation of our client’s original brain child and ideas as clearly highlighted in their respective presentation of 5th August, 2016 and Action Plan of 18th August, 2016, all in the possession of the Ministry of Information and Culture.
“Constituting creative economy conference formed part of the preliminary intervention measure proposed by our client in the implementation of Bar Coding Technology on the Creative Industry in Nigeria.
“Our client viewed this action as a grave infringement of their intellectual property rights and dubious conversion of their brain child ideas and concept, originating from painstaking professional study, research and investigation that gulped them over N500,000.”Ejiofor said in the petition.