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Omoni-Jude

The ANA Prize-winning playwright Jude Idada, whose Oduduwa, King of the Edos was shortlisted for the 2014 NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature, has accused Nollywood star actress Omoni Oboli of stealing his script for use in her new film, Okafor’s Law.

The accusation, which first surfaced in September of 2016, gained traction this year and led to a court injunction preventing Okafor’s Law from premiering. The court injunction has since been lifted and the film will premiere today, March 31.

okafor's law

Here is a September 2016 report from Pulse.ng.

In 2014, Idada was invited over by the Obolis, who told him about their new project “Okafor’s Law.” According to Idada, he ‘let his guard’ down, and shared ideas with Omoni’s husband, Nnamdi Oboli. They offered him the scripting contract, which he accepted, and after much deliberation charged 750,000 naira. He demanded for a contract. “If I’m going to do it, this time, I want a contract,” he said to them.

Idada accepted to write the script. “They didn’t give me a dime. I went ahead and wrote this thing. So while I was writing, I had to travel to Kamapala. I traveled to Kampala and lost all I had written. I reached out to them and told them, ‘this is the situation, but I will still write it.’

“So I rewrote the story. Meanwhile, I asked Omoni ‘where is the contract.’ Everyday there was a long story. They didn’t send me no contract, they didn’t send me no money.”

According to him, Fabian Lojede advised him to write a contract himself, and forward to the Obolis. “I wrote the contract, and I called Nnamdi over the phone. I said ‘Nnamdi, I have sent you the contract, let me know when you sign it. He said ok, ‘I will get back to you.’ No acknowledgment of this contract, these people just went blank.

After a month and a half with no response from them, he gave the script to a friend of his (Chioma), who loved the story. “In the contract I sent to them, I said to them, Okafor’s Law is yours, but the story is mine, the characters, the log line is mine, everything is mine. If at the end of the day, you don’t want to go ahead with the script, I will take everything and give you “Okafor’s Law,” because that’s all you have contributed.”

oklaw

According to him, the Obolis found out about his deal with Chioma, and told people he stole their story.

“In 2016, they started shooting, and someone said to me ‘they are shooting Okafor’s Law.” Then somebody brought the script, and Chioma said to me ‘this is your script that they are telling.’ When I read the story, I saw that it was my story. All she did was change the names, but it was essentially my story,” Idada said.

When Okafor’s Law was selected to screen at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, Idada said he hesitated pushing the issue “considering how it would make Nollywood look to the world.”

Idada, who has also won the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) best screenplay prize, further accuses Omoni of plagiarising his ideas for her debut film Being Mrs Elliot. Despite Okafor’s Law being allowed to be viewed publicly, the case remains in court and is scheduled for an April 3 or 4 hearing.

*****

Post image from Greennews.ng via Google.

Film poster from Pulse.ng.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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