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Mo Abudu didn’t give me full disclosure of Oloture from start, says Tobore

obore Ovuorie, says she would not be in a copyright infringement war with movie producer, Mo Abudu, if she had been granted full disclosure of ‘Oloture’ from the start.

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An investigative journalist, Tobore Ovuorie, says she would not be in a copyright infringement war with movie producer, Mo Abudu, if she had been granted full disclosure of ‘Oloture’ from the start.

She also denied allegations that Abudu had secured legal rights from Premium Times, her employers at the time, to manufacture ‘Oloture, noting that before being employed by the media outfit, she had begun her investigation.

The journalist wrote: “EbonyLife reported that my former employer, Premium Times, legally acquired the right to use my life story. Unfortunately for them and as I had previously told them through my lawyers, the investigation into human trafficking in my story had started before my employment with Premium Times.”

She further added, “It is disheartening that Aunty Mo could mention that she got the right to my life-story from my ex-employer. I am in shock that she would claim that I was contacted prior to the movie in one breath and in another that the story is not about me but about several other faceless journalists who had done what I did but did not publish experiences.

“If Ebonylife had given me full disclosure from the beginning, we would not be where we are, at this point. Oloture is an adaptation of my work and life-story. I experienced the investigation, the process, and the risks, upon which the movie is based. I also single-handedly authored the publication the movie relied on.

“The publication of my experience is what gave birth to ‘Oloture’. A movie about sex trafficking does not need to be centered around a journalist and it does not need to play out the plots of my published story. The question is, why is the open credits for the story of ‘Oloture’ bearing Mo Abudu, Temidayo Abudu, and three others?

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“How ethical is that for an adapted story? Even the alleged end credit, how appropriate is it? This is not the standard practice in the industry and Ebonylife should know better. Aunty Mo’s claims that Kenneth Gyang has had to deal with daily and weekly harassments from me is completely false.”

Tobore went on to say that after being told of what she described as “the actual source of the story” behind the movie script, Kenneth Gyang, the film’s director, was alerted about the consequences of taking up ‘Oloture’.

Oloture
Tobore Ovuorie

The 40-year-old replied to Abudu’s dismissal of her $5 million compensation claim and denied threatening producers of the film on social media. She said    a film about exploitation should not be exploitative in itself.

She further explained, “On October 4th, 2020 Kenneth confessed in the Premium Times story that he became aware of the ‘Oloture’ story, two weeks before release. A film director whom I had worked with on a 30 minutes documentary on this same story in 2016 told Kenneth the actual source of the story and had warned him of the consequences,” Tobore added.

“Kenneth Gyang contacted me to grant an audio interview to DW, but my lawyers had advised me against further media engagement on the subject. I also considered Kenneth’s disposition when he asked for this, and rather than mincing my words in an interview that came through Kenneth Gyang, I decided not to grant it.

“It would be morally wrong for me to grant such an interview when he is the person that released my contacts to the reporter who reached me then. Aunty Mo’s claim that I am doing this because Oloture traveled far is a deliberate attempt at mischief. The question is if the decision to tag this movie a fiction was an attempt at maximizing profit?

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“The allusion to the fact that my claim for compensation was outrageous when I’m claiming infringement of intellectual property right, shows a lot needs to be done in terms of re-orientation for the entertainment landscape in Nigeria. My interest had always been to be given appropriate credit for my work, far above compensatory claims.

“The making of a film on exploitation should not itself be exploitative. I almost died (and I saw death) when I took a 7-month long journey to investigate human trafficking. Now, I am going through the ordeal a second time watching my life story on TV, without full credit or compensation, and the subsequent campaign of calumny.”

Tobore eventually asked Abudu to immediately provide “proper open credit and end credit” in the film alongside her monetary demands, recognizing the adaptation of her work in accordance with the norms and practices of the film industry.

She also demanded that Abudu, through Ebony Life and its affiliates, avoid further “exploitation” of the 2014 story.

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Abudulrasheed Mubarak is a freelance content creator. He starting his writing career in 2011. He is a graduate of Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi in Urban and Regional Planning.

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