MARCH 10, 2021
No fewer than 13 professional associations and guilds representatives converged on Lagos recently to interface on key issues of interest concerning film and video sub-sector of the creative industry. The interaction tagged: Safer Internet Dialogue On Hate Speeches, was at the instance of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME reports.
The lingering issues of double taxation and the supremacy of federal laws over states’ when conflict arises took the centre stage at a recent meeting of registered professional associations, guilds in the movie subsector and the media in Lagos.
Despite a Federal High Court, Lagos ruling that Lagos State Government cannot exercise regulatory powers to register and license cinema exhibition centres in Lagos State under the Cinematograph Law of Lagos State, at the same time with the Federal Government, there was still apprehension among members of the guilds.
The stakeholders meeting, called at the instance of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), provided an interface on some of these key issues of mutual interest in the film and video sub-sector of the economy. It also served to promote the board’s role in media literacy within the ecosystem for peace and economic prosperity.
Executive Director, National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Alhaji Adedayo Thomas, said the issue of hate speech should be domesticated and be examined from a cultural perspective, noting that ‘when a child is being brought up, there are things we ask the child not to say; so, the issue of hate speech is part and parcel of our moral development on a daily basis.
“Part of our media literacy programmes is to enlighten the people and when it concerns NFVCB, it’s because of the kind of things we see on a daily basis as they affect the society. In our work, we should be wary of what we project especially as it concerns the creative industry so that we are not being seen as contributing to negativity in the society. So, we need to address ourselves about that,” he said.
Reacting to agitations by some practitioners not wanting to belong to the pool, he said ‘it is an insult for some to call themselves independent movie producers since there is no independent lawyer, independent engineer, or surveyor or other profession not having an association. If anyone does not want to be involved in our politics he or she should pay his due. But if anyone does not want to pay his due, he can’t be a producer, director or distributor, he should become an executive producer. Whatever is not in the law should not be accommodated.’
He however, warned that the board will no longer engage with practitioners in the movie industry who are yet to be registered. Citing ‘Act 17 sub-section 2 and 3 of the NFVCB Act’ he said the directive was imperative in order to restore sanity to the industry that has been saturated by many non-professionals.
He added that any practitioner who refuses to register will be sanctioned and pulled out of business as the board wants the best for genuine practitioners in the industry.
Alhaji Thomas reassured movie producers and marketers of the board’s protection urging them to play by the rules. He said that the board will continue to serve their interest diligently by providing legitimacy and quality to their films and movies through effective classification and censorship.
He stated that there is no ambiguity on the position of the NFCVB (on double taxation) about the supremacy of federal laws over states’ in matters of conflict between the two. He stressed that the board decries double taxation but that if the state and Federal are legislating on the same matter, when a conflict arises, federal laws will supersede that of the state.
“It’s not encouraging to be paying double taxation anywhere. The best I can do is to say that yes it is true we are collecting money from you. If am asked is it right for me to collect money and another person collect money from you on same matter? I will say no. Then, the court says you’re right, you must not be paying federal and pay state,” he said.
Alhaji Thomas noted that for censors board to effectively carry out its mandate, it has to increase its capacity, adding that ‘our monitoring or censoring must increase while arrest must be made of those who market uncensored films.’ “We have to increase our capacity to do that…We are not bankers. NFVCB is a regulator and we are like police,” he added.
National President National Association of Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Mr. Isreal Eboh tasked stakeholders on the need to bring some measure of control to the operations, noting that giving much room for ‘independent’ player, means ‘we aren’t ready to start.’
“I agree that there is a need for us to have greater synergy and more consultations among the guilds. Again, until we start to work together, we can’t achieve what we want to achieve. We tend to always want to play down individuals working towards a common empire for a greater sector. I hope we will take advantage of this and work towards strong sector. I believe that there’s a need for us as guilds to have our liaison with the Nigerian Film and Videos Censor Board, if we are going to make this work,” Eboh said.
It would be recalled that last year June, a judgment delivered by Hon. Justice (Prof.) Chuka Austine Obiozor in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1502/2016, Harris & Annis Limited v Attorney General of Lagos State & 3 Ors, the court faulted the dual registration and annual licensing fees exacted by both the Federal and Lagos State Governments. In the suit filed by its lawyers, Auxano Law, Harris & Annis Limited, which operates ‘Dew Cinema’ in Lagos State, joined the Attorney- General of Lagos State, the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board (LSFVCB), the Attorney-General of the Federation, and the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) as defendants.
Alhaji Thomas however, hinted that he was having consultations with the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture on how to resolve these issues of double taxation.
Among associations represented at the meeting, which was anchored by actor Keppy Ekpenyong Bassey included: Creative Designers Guilds of Nigeria (CDGN), Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Theatre Arts and Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN), Association of Movie Content Owners and Producers and Distributors of Nigeria (AMCOD ), National Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN), and Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN). Others were: Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), Film Distributors Associations of Nigeria (FDAN), Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN), Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria (SWGN) and Association of Nigerian Movie Directors (ANMD).