Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos has lifted the injunction that prevented the premiere and release of Omoni Oboli’s new movie titled Okafor’s Law.
In his ruling on Thursday afternoon, the presiding judge said the movie should not have been prevented from showing in the first place since the copyright claim suit is yet to be determined by a competent court of law.
Following the new pronouncement, Okafor’s Law will be screened nationwide in all cinemas from Friday, March 31, 2017.
An excited Omoni tweeted, “Glory be to God!!!!!!!!!!! #OkaforsLaw is showing in all cinemas NATIONWIDE from tomorrow Friday.”
A court injunction over copyright infringement allegations halted the screening of the film at the IMAX Cinema in Lekki, Lagos last week Friday.
After months of preparation and publicity, the actress was served a court injunction at 5P.M. just an hour before the premiere, because of a lawsuit filed by a third party over allegations that she infringed on a writers intellectual property.
In the injunction, which was obtained to prevent Okafor’s Law premiere and release on March 31, Omoni Oboli, Dioni Visions and Filmone Distribution are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
Omoni Oboli was accused of copyright infringement for the Okafor’s Law title she gave her movie, by a Canada-based writer, Jude Idada.
Jude accused Omoni of stealing his story and idea for her new movie, Okafor’s Law, in September 2016.
Jude revealed this in an interview with an online movie website, TNS. He also stated that Oboli copied his idea for her directorial debut, “Being Mrs Elliott.”
In September 2016, TNS published a 45-minute long interview with Jude who alleged that the actress infringed on his intellectual copyright by running with his script for the film.
Idada alleged that Oboli took the work he had done regarding Okafor’s Law and developed it without giving him due credit despite the fact that the only thing she had at the time she called him into the project was the name Okafor’s Law.”
The actress/producer however maintained her silence and went on to promote and set a release date for the movie for March 31 with the premiere on Friday evening in Lagos, even after a demand letter was allegedly sent, and the matter was taken to court for the copyright infringement and trademark violation.
A star-studded movie, Okafor’s Law stars Richard Mofe Damijo, Toyin Aimakhu, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Ken Erics, Ufuoma McDermott, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Yvonne Jegede, Halima Abubakar, Mary Lazarus, Uche Nnaji, Betty Irabor, Tina Mba, Gabriel Afolayan, and Funke Bucknor.
Omoni is popular for hit Nollywood movies including “Being Mrs. Elliott,” “Wives on Strike,” “The First Lady,” “The Figurine,” “Anchor Baby” among others.
Okafor’s Law premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival as part of the City-to-City programme.
Jude is a winner of AMAA best screenplay award, ANAA prize for Drama, Goethe Institut AfrikaProjekt and the first runner up of the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature.
Mr. Buba had on March 24, granted an interim order, stopping the premiere of “Okafor’s Law” scheduled to hold on the evening of same day.
But in short ruling Friday, Justice Buba vacated the interim orders, and paved way for the release and launch of the film, after entertaining arguments from both counsel to the plaintiff and defendants.
Mr. Buba held: “The court shall resist the temptation of making any pronouncement on the substance of the matter at this interlocutory stage.
“Suffice to say that surely what is exhibited by the plaintiff is a script ‘The Bet’ and not ‘Okafor’s Law’ and so this court has no doubt that the plaintiff/applicant cannot sustain this application.
“Even though the applicant moved the court to grantg an order exparte, thank God the side of the defendant is heard.
“I do not think that on the face of the counter affidavit, this court will exercise its discretion both judicially and judiciously in granting the motion for interlocutory injunction.
“This court is unable to grant the interlocutory orders sought by the applicant; the prayer is hereby refused and the interim orders made on the 24th day of March is accordingly vacated.”
Earlier, arguing for the grant of an interlocutory injunction, counsel to the plaintiff, A.K. Oragu, urged the court to grant the orders as prayed on the grounds that there was need to establish the legal rights of the plaintiff.
According to Mr. Oragu, Section 51 of the Copyrights Act, clearly establishes the right of the plaintiff, adding that the plaintiff had an assignment with respect to the script in question.
He argued that under the Act, an author is the owner of the copyright, adding that the “art work” in respect to the movie “Okafor’s Law”, belonged to Jude Idada, who later assigned same.
He submitted that the movie industry was the eye of morality, adding that if the movie “Okafor’s Law” is allowed to be launched in the wrong name, then the entire process is wrong.
He urged the court to grant the interlocutory orders.
Responding to the application, counsel for the defendant, Augustine Alegeh, urged the court to refuse the application for interlocutory injunction.
Mr. Alegeh argued that the applicant seeks to stop the premiere of an already completed film, “Okafor’s Law” whereas, his challenge is based on a script titled “The Bet”.
He argued that the script was clearly different from the movie.
He recounted the various losses suffered by the defendant as a result of the court’s order, which led to a failed premiere of the movie on March 24.
He added that guests including children, were already seated at the Cinema, but were disappointed to hear about the injunction.
He urged the court to allow the scheduled release of the movie billed for March 31 (tomorrow), adding that where such grant was found to have been undeserving, then the various damages sought by the plaintiff would suffice.
Mr. Alegeh urged the court to vacate the interim orders and grant his prayer.
The court has fixed April 3 for hearing of the new suit. (NAN)
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