By Malcolm Omirhobo
Weighing the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, order for the arrest and prosecution of skit and movie makers over the unauthorized use of Police uniforms and the portrayal of the police institution in bad light I am compelled to make the following clarifications for the protection of the rights of the promoters of the make believe world industry in Nigeria.
I will like to start by saying that the inspector general of police has no powers to direct the movie makers and skit makers on how they chose to portray the Police institution in their movies and skits no matter how demeaning because to do so will amount to the violation of their fundamental rights to freedom of expression.
It is however imperative for the people in the make believe world to understand that they are not permitted under the law to use or be in possession of police uniform, kits and accoutrement without the authorization of the police.
In fact it is a criminal offence to do so as expressed by the Inspector general of police and it is punishable under the law.
Having said that it is instructive to note that there is nothing in our laws that prohibits movie makers and skit makers from preparing costumes depicting the Nigerian police uniform for their business as long as it is not the police property which therefore makes it a private property and the police consequently cannot arrest them for owning a costume because the Nigerian constitution makes it clear that every Nigerian citizen have the right to own both moveable and immovable property.
As long as such uniforms are used as costumes for acting and are not used to impersonate the police or commit any crime the police cannot arrest and prosecute movie makers and skit makers, because, to do so, will amount to the infringement of their constitutional right to freedom of expression and right to own property.
In view of the above, I advice film and skit makers to be law abiding and not to succumb to the threat and intimidation of the police to stop them from exercising their right to freedom of expression and right to own property.
The police naturally will be quick at ensuring prompt authorisation of all applications for approvals of usage of police items in movies and skits which will portray the police in good light and will definitely refuse to grant the applications that portray the police in bad light.
Once confronted with the later situation, I advise the affected film or skit maker to prepare it’s own police consume strictly for the make believe world and by so doing, will not be offending the law.
Movie and skit makers must have it at the back of their minds that they do not have the liberty to portray the police in bad light without justification.
In doing so, they must be guided with the principles of truth, honesty and defence of public interest.
The movie and skit makers have the licence to tease, mock and criticize the police while plying their trade because not even the President of Nigeria is free from their knocks as long as their contents are true , honest and in the interest of the public.
I therefore urge Emmanuella and little Success, Nkem Owoh, Bishop Ime, Williams Uchemba, Brodashaggi and Officer Woos, Francis Otega and Funnybone, Aki and Pawpaw, Eniola Badmus, Mr Ibu, officer Eno Obong and other movie and skit makers to continue with their good works as law and not to allow themselves to be cowed.
@views exclusive rights: MALCOLM EMOKINIOVO OMIRHOBO, Legal Practitioner, August 2, 2022.