How FG Pirated Wole Soyinka’s Books, Shared Them For Free — Denja, ANA Ex-President

The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development led by Sunday Dare allegedly pirated some books written by Professor Wole Soyinka — a Nigerian playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and Nobel Prize winner.

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The ministry, without Soyinka’s authorisation, allegedly uploaded his works on its website for free download by members of the public.

This was revealed on Wednesday by Denja Abdullahi, the immediate past president of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).

According to Abdullahi, the matter was reported to the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) who intervened and ensured that the books were pulled down from the ministry’s website.

He made the revelation while responding to a question by our correspondent on the plight of Nigerian authors who are not reaping the full benefits of their hard work due to piracy.

Our reporter had cited the case of a Nigerian author and serving lawmaker at the House of Representatives, Akin Alabi, who recently took to Instagram to complain about the sale of pirated copies of his books on the streets.

“Only if I can get royalties from the sales of my books when sold on the streets. When I meet 100 people that bought my books, 90 of them bought pirated copies on the streets. If I count how many original copies I have sold, I can say they have sold millions of pirated copies, but I don’t get a dime,” Alabi, who represents Egbeda/Ona Ara Federal Constituency in Oyo State, had said.

But responding, Abdullahi said that Soyinka has been a victim of piracy even from the government

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He, however, noted that the Nigerian Copyright Commission was now doing everything possible to address “all sorts of copyright issues,”

He said, “It would interest you to know that even the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, last year during the COVID-19 period, raised an issue about his own book being pirated by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and I got this message from somebody who was just appointed as the DG of Radio Benue, Dr Charles Lornumbe. He is very close to Soyinka. So, he got across to me [that] Soyinka is complaining.

“And I personally investigated [it]. I went to that website of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and I saw some very rare Soyinka books that I had been looking for. Some books that have gone out of prints and I saw all of them with open access.”

Checks by THE WHISTLER indicated that the books were uploaded to the e-library section of the ministry’s website.

Abdullahi added, “So, when I saw it, I reached out to the DG of the Nigerian Copyright Commission who happens to be a friend. I told him that this is what is happening to Soyinka’s books. The man personally took it on himself and went to the ministry and they discovered that that website was just innocently put there, they didn’t know that it is an issue of copyright and that website was shot down.

“The NCC DG personally met the Permanent Secretary and the Minister and the website was shut down. With the proactive nature of the NCC now, they are ready to address all sorts of copyright issues.”

THE WHISTLER called a phone number provided on the e-library section of the website for comments, but the person who responded said his number was mistakenly supplied on the website and referred the reporter to the ministry’s main contact page.

Our checks, however, showed that he ministry’s main website does not have a contact page.

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