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Untold story of Omoni Oboli’s plagiarism saga: What my experience with the actress will teach Nigerian film makers

• Why I didn’t drag her to court

By Benjamin Njoku

Canadian-based Nigerian script writer, Jude Idada, who recently accused actress Omoni Oboli of copying his script for her new film, “Okafor’s Law” which made its world debut at the just concluded Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, has provided more insights into the allegation,insisting that the purpose was not to expose or tarnish the image of the actress, but importantly, to defend himself.

Recall that Idada, in a recent interview with an online publication, TNS, accused Omoni Oboli of copying his script for her new film, “Okafor’s Law,” He also alleged that Omoni’s 2014 ‘Being Mrs Elliot’ was an idea she lifted directly from him without giving him due credit.

However, providing more insights into the allegation, while in an online chat with HVP, Idada who is currently in South America working on a new film project said, his action was based on the need to defend his integrity as a script writer.

He said, the actress has been going about telling who cares to listen to her that he was the one who stole her story. “To ensure that the truth was being told, since the journalist who approached me had said he heard stuff from other actors and filmmakers who knew that I wrote the story and was going to publish… so I decided that since he was going to publish, he might as well publish the truth and not hearsay,” the gifted script writer said.

Speaking further, Idada said that part of the reason he didn’t take legal action against Omoni Oboli was because he didn’t want to besmirch the image of the country in the global stage as well as tarnish the image of the other films that were selected for screening at the just concluded Toronto International Film Festival. “I am very happy that Nollywood is finally getting its day in the limelight and I celebrate all the films that were chosen. That is one of the reasons I did not go the legal route with Omoni Oboli, even when my lawyer had pleaded with me to allow him serve an injunction to her and TIFF as regards the film. I believe that doing that would have besmirched the image of Nigeria in the global stage and tarnished the image of the other films chosen.”

jude-idada

“ I couldn’t stand the world saying… “See them, you give them a chance to shine and you find out that as usual they have issues with crime!” I had to put my own interest on the back seat and put the interest and image of Nigeria on the front seat… so I am totally in a celebratory mood as regards the City to City focus on Lagos at TIFF. I hope that my experience with Omoni and “Okafor’s Law” will let Nigeria know that as Nollywood gets on the world stage, things have to be professionalized… whether friends or not… contracts have to be entered into for everything, duly signed and breachers,” Idada narrated.

On the issue of signing a contract with the actress, Idada explained that they never signed a contract. Rather, he sent the contract to Omoni’s husband, in 2015, which he refused to acknowledge the receipt of the contract.

‘In that contract, the story, characters, plot lines, reversals, dialogue etc were mine. And the name ‘Okafor’s Laws’ were theirs since they told me they wanted the film to be based on the name and the law. If we do not go ahead with the project, I will take my story, characters, plot lines, reversals and they can keep the name. They did not sign the contract, but instead went ahead to write a version of my story that was 85% similar to the story I had told them in their house in Oniru in 2014… to shed more light… it was after I told them the story, that Omoni pleaded with me to write it for them… they had asked me to come over and give them a story based on Okafor’s Law… because they had no story… I sat at the dining table and told her husband, herself and her PA the story.”

Idada, who has written many Nollywood flicks including “The Tenant”, “Comatose” which he wrote in conjunction with Mickey Dube and Fabian Lojede, an adaptation of my stage play “Coma” said, he is very evasive to publicity and fame. “ I loathe the limelight. To have come out to speak about this in the first place was a herculean task. That was why I didn’t even speak about “Being Miss Elliot” when it happened. I acted in 8bars and A Clef. I prefer creating the magic and writing the stories… and let it speak for itself… just like a spielberg will do… I want to play with my strengths, not try and do everything and be everything.” Meanwhile, efforts made by HVP to get Omoni’s reaction proved abortive as her cell phone was not going through. A message sent to the actress via her Facebook page was neither acknowledged nor replied.


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