The Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, November 19, 2020, prosecuted Uzoma Udemba, President and CEO of Communication Trends Limited for a three-count charge bordering on the infringement of rights author before Judge Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court based in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
Udemba, a pay TV operator, was prosecuted together with his company, Communication Trends Limited and Samuel Onyeanuforo, for allegedly broadcasting English Premier League matches without the permission of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, the rights owner.
MultiChoice had submitted a petition to the EFCC in 2019, claiming that Communication Trends Limited had jeopardized its investment by illegally broadcasting EPL matches. It alleged that Communication Trends Limited perpetrated the fraud using MultiChoice set-top boxes, Bien Sports set-top boxes, Canal Plus set-top boxes and other Internet Transmission Protocol (IPTV) devices.
One of the charges against the defendants states: “That you Communication Trends Limited, Uzoma Udemba (President / CEO of Communication Trends Limited) and Samuel Onyeanuforo, sometime in August 2019, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, distributed for the purpose of trading an infringing copy of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited’s work and therefore committed an offense contrary to Section 20 (2) (b) of the Copyright Act Cap 28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria of 2004 and punishable under Section 20 (2) (d) of the same Law ”.
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. In light of their pleas, the prosecutor, Nwandu Ukoha, prayed to the court to detain the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS, and set a trial date.
However, defense attorney Ifeanyi Idika informed the court of a pending bail request on behalf of his clients and asked the court to admit the defendants released on bail on the most liberal terms.
Judge Okeke granted the defendants a bond in the amount of N3m each with a bond each in the same amount. Each of the bonds must have a territorial property within the jurisdiction of the court, to be verified by the Clerk of the Court. She ordered that they be sent to the Correctional Service facility in the state, pending the fulfillment of their bond condition.
The matter was postponed until January 27, 2021 for trial.