A Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has sentenced a trader, Chinonso Ugochukwu, to one year imprisonment for pirating the Holy Bible and other books.
The trial judge, Justice F.O. Riman however, gave the convict an option of N30,000 fine and to compulsorily forfeit the recovered materials to the Federal Government.
Justice Riman convicted Ugochukwu of a two-count- charge, bordering “on pirating, being in possession and offering for sale, 578 copies of various literary works including The Holy Bible (Revised Standard version).
The offence contravenes section 20(2)(c) of the Copyright Act, Cap C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria which attracts one year imprisonment.
During trial, a witness and staff of staff of Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), Martins Umoh, had told the court that the commission received complaints from copyright owners, including The Bible Society of Nigeria alleging that their literary works were being pirated.
Umoh said they embarked on searches in several local government areas of the state and discovered that several copies of pirated literary works were found in Ugochukwu’s shop located at No 17 Grace Bill Road, Eket, in Akwa Ibom State.
Also testifying, a staff of the Bible Society of Nigeria, Oluwafemi Akindele, told the court that his office translates The Holy Bible, typesets it and sources for funds to publish it.
Akindele said that they observed that while the products were everywhere in the market, it never reflected in its official Bible distribution figure
According to him, that was when they observed that most of the products in the market were pirated copies and made formal complaints to NCC which led to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of Ugochukwu