Legal Drama

Nollywood LEGAL Drama: Producer & Actor Zik Zulu SUES President of Nollywood Core Producers Alex Eyengho in 150Million Naira Libel Lawsuit

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This is an interesting case. I have covered libel cases in Nigeria before. Specifically, reference the AML archived case of RMD v. Linda Ikeji here.

On to the present case, since the 3 billion naira intervention fund provided by the Federal Government for the Nollywood industry, it has been interesting to monitor the dialogue within the Nollywood community both in the USA; and Nigeria on the funds and the resulting chaos about the distribution of those funds.  At some point, 200million of that money was allegedly disbursed to Tony Abulu’s Doctor Bello with an alleged support by Nexim Bank.

The ‘Doctor Bello’ movie packed with Nigerian and Hollywood stars showed up for a premiere in the USA. Does anyone know what has happened post this disbursement i.e. the return on investment? Has the film been released and distributed here in the USA? Nigeria? Has the disbursing parties recouped the 200million naira investment?

The above questions are some of the surrounding kinds of issues that come up with respect to the 3billion naira intervention for Nollywood.

Further, when Governor Akpabio also extended a 50Million Naira grant to the industry, little did he probably know he would open yet another can of worms.

An example of this can of worms is exemplified with the ongoing battle where Nollywood producer turned actor Zik Zulu is allegedly suing the President of Nollywood Core Producers Alex Eyengho over libelous statements Eyengho allegedly made about the grant. An excerpt from Nigerianfilms.com regarding this fresh litigation follows at the end of my article/ost.

The defendant in this case, Alex Eyengho, says he is yet to receive the official petition or summons and complaint i.e notice that a lawsuit has been instituted against him so he can respond through the legal court system.

As an aside, a Plaintiff can file a lawsuit in Nigeria or US courts and then subsequently serve the Defendant with a copy of the petition or summons and complaint. There is usually a time frame to do this and rules on who can serve. If you are a party to the action, you are usually prohibited from serving, meaning you have to hire a process server (a company or persons who serve papers) or find someone else a friend, family etc. to help serve your papers.

Finally, before sharing an excerpt of the brouhaha below, let me share another excerpt of a different interview conducted in 2012 with a Nexim Bank executive that clearly outlines the central issues the industry face and suggest as an industry, Nollywood re-shifts its focus on resolving these issues instead of these unnecessary brouhahas.

“Nollywood is ranked third globally in revenue; receipts over the years are reported to range between US$300m to US$800m, depending on source. Nollywood films rights are predominantly exploited through Home Video – CDs/DVDs releases and Cable / Satellite broadcast rights. But despite Nollywood’s high prospects, the industry still faces some challenges that are militating against the full realization of its potentials.  These include:

  • Very low production for theatrical releases and cross-border co-production arrangements
  • Inadequate Exhibition / Theatrical Infrastructure currently at 0.36 screens per million populations.Nigeria currently has less than 60 modern screens in multiplexes located in five cities of Abuja -15, Lagos  17, P/H -14, Enugu 5 and Uyo 6. This is perhaps the lowest in the emerging market. India has over 13,000 screens; translating to 12 screens per million people.
  • Lack of adequate digital production and distribution infrastructure to exploit the new media and digital distribution platform.
  • Gross violation of intellectual property rights and ineffective intellectual property laws
  • Inefficient, unstructured distribution channels and marketing outlets both domestically and internationally.
  • Low access to structured finance and funding support to enhance production quality and access to new major markets like US, Europe and Asia.
  • Poor corporate structure and,in most cases, poor book-keeping culture

In view of the challenges mentioned and to facilitate the sustainable development of the sector, the role of Nexim Bank in the creative arts and entertainment industry is two-fold; namely, funding intervention to loan beneficiaries and developmental support through strategic alliances for capacity-building and event sponsorships. For the Nigerian film industry to leverage and benefit from the available financing schemes, the issues I will mention here need to be looked into; namely,

  • Enforcement of intellectual property rights
  • Ensuring that revenue streams are identifiable,and verifiable
  • Introduction of Industry Guarantee Fund / Instruments to assuage challenges relating to access to finance, especially by small companies and start-ups
  • Design and issuance of policy instruments by the insurance industry like completion bond, etc
  • Valuation of collateral asset  property,equipment and, possibly, intellectual property . . .” FinancingNigeria.com has the full story.

______________________________

ZIK ZULU V. ALEX EYENGHO LIBEL SUIT

“Few days ago, the president of ANCOP, Alex Eyengho invited the EFCC and the fraud unit of the Nigerian police in Lagos. He wrote a petition against those who collected the money claiming that they have allegedly shared the money among themselves.

Two of the alleged beneficiaries of the largesse, Zik Zulu and Andy Amenechi have slammed a lawsuit of N150million on Eyengho.

In a statement made available to Nigeriafilms.com, Zulu said he and Amenechi, “have filed a N150 million libel suit against one Mr. Alex Eyengho, at the High Court of Lagos state of Nigeria in a suit No LD/ADR/440/13.”

He also said that, “on or about August 19, 2013, [Eyengho] maliciously and with intent to destroy the character of the claimants (Zulu and Amenechi) published false words about the claimants in a petition to the Police Special Fraud Unit, Milverton Road, Ikoyi, where he categorically accused them of squandering the N50 million grant given to the industry by Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio.”

Counsel to the claimants gave Eyengho “a leeway to issue a retraction of his spurious allegations within five days from September 9, 2013 and to commence immediate negotiations with the claimants’ lawyers on payment of damages.

“The failure to take the window of opportunity according to Odikpo is the option of N150 million claim as damages against the defendant, plus an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant by himself or by his servants, agents and privies from further publication of the said defamatory or similar words. .  .”

Nigeriafilms.com has the full story.

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