Omoni Oboli‘s Okafor’s Law is scheduled to debut in cinemas across Nigeria on March 31, 2017.
Having been part of the Nollywood entourage to last year’s Toronto International Film Festival as well as making a couple of appearances in other film festivals, Okafor’s Law is no doubt one of the most anticipated films in Nollywood this year.
Recently, the actress released character posters for the film, TNS being one of the media outfits the publicity materials were sent to. But as the editor of what is no doubt the biggest Nollywood platform in the world, it was my duty to ensure that TNS did not publish those materials.
We have never requested payment to publish Nollywood film-related publicity materials, however, we hold full discretion as to what we use or don’t use. And Okafor’s Law belongs in the “don’t use” category. Now, before someone at the back screams “HATERS!!!”, here’s why.
Just before the TIFF party began in Canada last year, a serious theft allegation was brought up against Omoni Oboli by writer, Jude Idada. A report exclusively put out by TNS. Idada found a way to get in touch with us and granted a 45-minute long interview about how, according to him, Omoni Oboli “stole” the script of the film from him. Idada told us that he was initially contracted to do the job and the only thing Oboli had was the title of the film. He alleged that he developed the idea into a script which she eventually ran with when disagreement emerged because of availability. The writer also backed his claims with several documents which pointed towards there being a story to pursue.
Of course, as truth seekers, TNS made several efforts to reach Oboli and her camp for clarifications, responses, denials, corroborations… whatever. I personally left several voice messages, text messages and email for the actress cum producer. None of this was returned. Not only did she ignore TNS, she did not address these image-ruining allegations on any other media platform. Despite the brief uproar Idada’s statements generated on several social media platforms, mum was the only thing she kept.
When Idada came out with his side of the story, he claimed that his reason for not heading straight for the courts was so Nollywood did not get a bad name internationally as TIFF was only a few weeks away. Why he still hasn’t headed to court is beyond me at the moment. But let’s not distract ourselves from the fact that Oboli’s action (or lack of it) borders on arrogance and an attitude which screams “Y’all can go fuck yourselves!”
That she hasn’t been engaged on this further in the industry begs for answers to several questions. Is Oboli feared among the media? Or among most of her colleagues who have thrown nothing more than a glance at this issue? Has the industry become so free-for-all that an individual can choose to TOTALLY ignore allegations as grave as this and still stroll (with the film in question) to the premiere red carpet and of course into cinema halls around the country?
Of course, no one is saying Ndi-feem should throw sticks at her when they see her or call her a thief (when she hasn’t been proven so), why I’m currently at a loss is because there hasn’t been any form of engagement within the industry, aside from the TNS-driven ones, that will make her feel some form of responsibility to her fans/audience as per this issue. What baffles one is a quarter of the noise hasn’t been made about this one as was made in the one involving Wana Udobang and her Room 313 and Niyi Akinmolayan and his Room 315.
Even if every other sub-sector of the industry gets a free pass for their demeanour towards this issue, I’m not ready to spare the Censors Board and the cinema outlets willing to screen this movie. It wouldn’t have been too much for one or both of these important players to say, “Look, we are not saying these allegations are true but you know what? Go and clear your name first and then we can screen this film thereafter.” But considering the fact that all is quite set for Okafor’s Law to roll into cinemas in two weeks, it means the cinemas only care about making their money and the Censors Board is nothing more than a ratings bully.
Since there has been a general let down, the only hope remains the audience. Will Nigerians be willing to boycott this film when it opens to, at least, send out a message? I sure hope, for the sake of Nollywood, they do.