A Federal High Court (FHC) sitting in Port Harcourt has fixed for January 15, 2013, hearing on the case of alleged of plagiarism instituted against Professors Steve O. Tamuno and Needorn Richard Sorle of the Department of Economics, University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), by a Nigerian-born United States-based professor, Victor Dike.
Dike who is of the School of Engineering & Technology, National University (Sacramento Center), Sacramento, California, accused the two UNIPORT professors of violating his intellectual property rights.
When the case came up for mention before Justice L. Akanbi of the Federal High Court 1, Port Harcourt, on June 12, 2012, both Professors Tamuno and Sorle were absent in court. Justice Akanbi then gave an order that the defendants be served with notice of the next hearing date which he fixed for November 6, 2012.
But on November 6, the defendants still failed to appear in court. Consequently, the plaintiff through his lawful Attorney, Onyinye Obiaju, moved the court through an ex-parte application for the 2nd defendant who has been evading service to be served by substituted means to wit: pasting the court processes at his last known office address.
This application was granted and the court made an order for the 2nd defendant to be served by pasting. The court also ordered that both parties be served with hearing notice for the next adjourned date of 15th of January 2013.
The court equally ordered that the plaintiff should be ready on the next adjourned date to do his case, that is, to call all his witnesses.
Dike had dragged Tamuno and Sorle to court (Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/154/2012) for allegedly plagiarizing his work. In the statement of claim signed by his counsel, E.U. Chinedum Esq., Dike avers that he is the original author of the article: “Corruption in Nigeria: A New Paradigm for Effective Control” published in the AFRICAN ECONOMIC ANALYSIS, and later republished in the NIGERIA ECONOMIC SUMMIT GROUP (NESG) – Economic Indicators (2003) July-September 2003, Volume 9, No.3 (p.32-45), under a new title, “Corruption in Nigeria: Understanding and Managing the Challenges.” This article, he claims, was copied verbatim by the defendants and published as their own work in the JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 6 NO 1, JUNE, 2008, under the heading, “Corruption and Economic Growth: A Survey of Three Institutions In Nigeria,” without properly acknowledging him as the original author.
Although in a letter entitled “Alleged Case of Plagiarism” dated January 21, 2012, the first defendant (Steve O. Tamuno) on behalf of himself and the second defendant (Needorn Richard Sorle) apologized to Dike for copying his work without properly acknowledging him, the plaintiff was not satisfied with that apology as the defendants had failed to retract the same article from the internet as demanded by him. Moreover, the plaintiff avers that his credibility has been called to serious question as his articles are no longer regarded highly by readers since their discovery that the very opinions he expressed have also been rendered verbatim ad literatim in the work of another person. Due to this incident, he claims, readers who had held him high esteem before now are beginning to doubt whether he is indeed the author of articles ascribed to him. This has caused him undue embarrassment, pain and stress.
So, he is seeking an order of the court restraining the defendants from citing the publications as their original work and another order mandating them to retract immediately the said article from the public and the University of Port Harcourt website.
He also wants the court to mandate the defendants to send him a written apology which must also be published in at least one national newspaper and in addition pay him the sum of N27 million as damages and the cost of the suit.
Dike is also in court with the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for alleged plagiarism. On Monday April 23, 2012, a Federal High Court in Abuja, gave orders that the CBN governor be served with a writ of summons filed by Dike who had alleged that Sanusi had breached his copyright by copying his work without acknowledging him in two convocation lectures he (Sanusi) delivered at the Igbinedion University, Okada, and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.
By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye