Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Emordi Henry Chukwuma
Federal High Court
Judgement delivered on Wednesday, June 19′ 2013
Citation: 56 NIPJD [FHC. 2013] ABJ/CR/90
Case No. FHC/ABJ/CR/90/2013 Jurisdiction: Nigeria
Judgement delivered by Justice A. R. Mohammed
Appearances: Mr. Shadeke Dimowo for the Prosecution
Accused Representing Self
Broadcast Piracy, Signal Piracy, Illegal re-broacasting — The Federal High Court in Abuja had to decide on a one-count charge of broadcast piracy brought against the accused by the Nigerian Copyright Commission.
The accused stood trial on a single count for broadcast piracy. The prosecution presented evidence in support of the charge including the accused’s book of subscribers and an inventory of the items seized from the accused’s shop.
The accused pleaded guilty to the charge and on June 19, 2013, Honourable Justice A.R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja convicted the accused and sentenced him to pay a fine of N10,000 in lieu of imprisonment.
In sentencing the accused, the court took into consideration the fact the accused was a first time offender and other mitigating factors including the fact that he did not know that his activities were criminal in the eyes of the law; he was a pensioner with a family and was last paid his pension entitlement three years prior to charge; he pled guilty, asked for forgiveness and promised not to commit the crime for which he was charged and convicted.
II. TRANSCRIPT FROM THE COURT
Transcript from Judgement:
Accused person present and understands English.
S. Dimowo Esq. for the Prosecution.
Court: Does the Accused person have a lawyer?
Accused Person: I don’t have a lawyer. In fact, I cannot even afford to engage a lawyer. I am a Retired Civil Servant. who has not been paid his pension since the last eight months. I am prepared to do the case myself.
Dimowo Esq: Under the circumstances, the Prosecution will be withdrawing count one of the charge and asking that count two be read to the Accused person.
Accused Person: I have no problem that the second offence be read to me.
Court: Count one is struck out. Registrar should read and explain count two to the Accused Person.
Registrar: Count two has been read and explained to the Accused Person.
Accused Person: Understood count two read and explained to him and pleaded guilty to count two of the charge.
Dimowo Esq: In view of the plea of guilty entered by the Accused person, I am ready to review the facts of this case.
Court: Prosecution counsel may proceed.
Dimowo Esq: The Accused is standing trial on a single count charge. The prosecution wishes to tender the statement of the Accused Person written under caution dated 17/5/12. I also wish to tender an inventory of the list of items seized from the shop of the Accused Person. We urge the Court to convict the Accused Person as charged. I also seek to tender a Book on the subscribers of the Accused person and 6 smart cards.
Court: The statement of the Accused Person date 17/5/12 is admitted in evidence as exhibit A. The inventory of the list of items seized, is admitted in evidence as exhibit B. A book containing list of Accused subscribers is admitted as exhibit C. The 6 smart cards are admitted in evidence as exhibits E, E1, E2, E3, E4, and E5 respectively.
Dimowo Esq: We urge the Court to convict the Accused Person on the charge.
Court: Based on the plea of guilty entered by the Accused to count two of the charge, and the evidence adduced before the court, the Accused Person is hereby found guilty as charged.
Convict: My pension was last paid in 2010. I did not know that what I have done was an offence. I did it to feed my children and family. I also was doing it to pay school fees for my children. The place I was doing the business was in the open and not hidden, because I never thought it was wrong to do what I have done. I was only giving DSTV programs to my neighbors, so that they can help me recharge the smart card. I beg the Court to have mercy on me.
Court: Does the Prosecution have any evidence that the convict has previous criminal record?
Dimowo Esq: The convict has no previous criminal record.
Court: The convict has not wasted the time of the Court in pleading guilty. It is clear that the convict did not even know that his activities were criminal in the eyes of the law. From his plea for leniency, the convict appears to be a pensioner who was last paid his pension entitlement in 2010, that was three years ago. With a family to cater for, and regular pension not forthcoming, it is not strange that the convict would definitely look for any means of survival. It is even gratifying that the convict was not forced to venture into hard crimes like robbery, 419 scam or even becoming a ready courier in the hands of drug barons.
In law, the essence of sentencing is not to punish but to reform and rehabilitate. It is enough if a convict feels remorseful for his actions. From his demeanor, the present convict has shown remorse for his action. That means, the convict is entitled to leniency of the Court. I hereby sentence the convict to pay the fine of N10,000 in lieu of imprisonment or one month imprisonment.
Dimowo Esq: I apply for leave that the items seized be destroyed by the Nigerian Copyright Commission.
Court: Application is granted.
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on June 19, 2013, in case no. FHC/ABJ/CR/90/13 convicted and sentenced one Mr Emordi Henry Chukwuma to a fine of Ten Thousand Naira (N10, 000.00) in lieu of imprisonment or one month imprisonment, for his involvement in broadcast piracy.