The Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, November 19, 2020, arraigned Uzoma Udemba, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Communication Trends Limited on a three-count charge bordering on copyright infringement before Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Udemba, a pay television operator, was arraigned alongside 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 in 2019 petitioned the EFCC, alleging that Communication Trends Limited had imperilled its investment by illegally relaying EPL matches. It alleged that Communication Trends Limited perpetrated the fraud using MultiChoice decoders, Bien Sports decoders, Canal Plus decoders and other Internet Streaming Protocol (IPTV) devices.
One of the charges against the defendants reads: “That you Communication Trends Limited, Uzoma Udemba (Chairman/ CEO of Communication Trends Limited) and Samuel Onyeanuforo, sometime in August 2019, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did distribute for the purpose of trade an infringing copy of the work of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 20 (2) (b) of the Copyright Act Cap 28 Laws of the Federation of Nigerian 2004 and punishable under Section 20 (2) (d) of the same Act.”
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsel, Nwandu Ukoha prayed the court to remand the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS, and fix a date for trial.
However, the defence counsel, Ifeanyi Idika, informed the court of a pending bail application in favour of his clients and prayed the court to admit the defendants to bail in most liberal terms.
Justice Okeke granted the defendants bail in the sum of N3m each with a surety each in like sum. Each of the sureties must have a landed property within the jurisdiction of court, to be verified by the Registrar of the Court. She ordered that they be remanded at the Correctional Service facility in the state, pending the fulfilment of their bail condition.
The matter was adjourned until January 27, 2021, for trial.