FG, Copyright Community eulogize late Prof. Egerton Uvieghara

Federal Government has hailed the Late Prof. Egerton Uvieghara as a legal icon who demonstrated exemplary sense of responsibility and rare commitment to his calling in the field of law and as a trail blazer in Nigerian Labour law and Commercial Law.

A statement by Vincent  Oyefeso said that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) made the commendation in his tribute during a virtual programme, “An Evening of Tributes” organised by the Nigerian Copyright Commission at the weekend in honour of Prof. Uvieghara who was the first Chairman of the Commission Governing Board.

The Minister who was represented by his Special Assistant on Media, Dr. Jubril Gwandu, recalled that the late Professor participated actively in the drafting and eventual enactment of the Copyright Act in 1988. 

He described him as a thorough-bred academic who mentored other scholars and policy makers and promoted team cooperation and synergy both at the NCC where he served as pioneer Chairman of the Governing Board from 1989 to 1994 and the Nigerian Law Reform Commission (NLRC) where he also worked as Commissioner from 1993 to 2003.

Describing the late Professor Uvieghara as one of Nigeria’s finest legal minds, the Minister whose Ministry supervises the NCC and NLRC said further: “The Federal Government of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Justice and the entire justice sector condole with his family, colleagues in the academia and the entire creative sector and pray that the Almighty will give us the fortitude to bear the loss.”

In his remarks, the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State and pioneer Director-General of the NCC, Mr. Moses Ekpo, MFR, recounted that Prof. Uvieghara did so much for the creative sector to ensure that copyright owners benefited from their creativity, stressing that “the remuneration creators of works are enjoying today are the fruits of his labour”.

He commended the Commission for the opportunity given to stakeholders and colleagues to pay tributes to the man who brought so much succour to Nigerian copyright owners. “As the NCC Chairman during my tenure as the Director-General of NCC for six years, he walked the length and breadth of the country to sell the idea of copyright to both users and owners”, he stated.

In his words, “Professor Uvieghara’s hard work helped Nigeria to accede to all copyright conventions internationally which made the copyright industry in Nigeria today an international affair and not just a Nigerian affair. As the Governing Board Chairman of NCC, he was always in the forefront of every enlightenment campaign on copyright in every part of the country during his tenure. I am happy today that the copyright system has been enhanced by the fact that we had a knowledgeable man who midwifed the law and ensured its implementation to the latter.”

Mr. Ekpo remarked that Prof. Uvieghara lived a fruitful and simple life of friendship and dignity of labour. He expressed his condolences to his wife and all members of the Uvieghara family and thanked him for all he did for Nigeria.

Another member of the pioneer Board of the NCC, renowned artist, Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya canvassed for adequate measures for the protection of practitioners in the creative sector and called for the preservation of Uvieghara’s legacies in the field of intellectual property (IP). 

He noted that Uvieghara worked very hard during his tenure as Chairman of NCC Board to foster access to education and public knowledge of intellectual property (IP) for sustainable development.

Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), represented by the Dean, Faculty of Law, Prof. Ige Bolodeoku remarked that Prof. Uvieghara was an exceptional scholar, a great and honest professor. “He was a pride to UNILAG and the IP world. Prof. was a happy man who mentored many achievers in the IP world”, he stressed.

In his remarks, the Director-General, NCC, Dr. John O. Asein, described the late Prof. Egerton as “a wonderful man, a teacher of teachers and an exceptional scholar who helped lay the foundation for the NCC”.

Also paying his tributes, a former Director-General of NCC, Prof. Adebambo Adewopo, SAN acknowledged Prof. Uvieghara as “a thorough bred academic, a foremost labour law teacher and author, a leading authority in the field and a quintessential scholar of his time who was unassuming, relatable, cerebral and a teacher of teachers”.

He added: “Remarkably as a law professor, he became a copyright law pioneer. His tenure at the Nigerian Law Reform Commission was the golden era of law reform in Nigeria and copyright law was a major beneficiary of that era as it manifested in the emergence of the Copyright Act in 1988.”

Highlights of the event included remarks on the life of Prof. Egerton Uvieghara delivered by his daughter, Terfe Uvieghara; a clip on his life and times presented by the NCC and a vote of thanks by Joyce Uvieghara on behalf of the family.

Other speakers who paid tributes to the late Professor included Chairman, NLRC Prof. Sotonye Jumbo; representative of the Network of IP Teachers and Scholars, Prof. Adejoke Oyewumi; Prof. Bankole Sodipo;  CEO of Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN), Mr. Mayo Ayilara;  Chairman, Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS), Dr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun; President, Society of Nigerian Artistes, Mr. Oliver Enwonwu and a representative of Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG), Prof. Olalere Oladitan.