Ann Njemanze demands ₦50 million from Zeb Ejiro over ‘Domitilla: The Reboot’
Ann Njemanze sues Zeb Ejiro for ₦50 million over Domitilla Reboot
The actress is suing the popular filmmaker and two others for copyright infringement.
Ann Njemanze has served Zeb Ejiro with a ₦50 million lawsuit over ‘Domitilla: The Reboot.’
Premium Times reports the Nollywood actress is suing the legendary filmmaker along with Filmone Entertainment and Film Trybe Media.
Njemanze, who rose to fame after playing the titular character in the 1996 original film, trademarked the name, ‘Domitilla’ on September 16, 2020.
This was the same year that Zeb Ejiro Productions, FilmOne Entertainment, and Omoni Oboli’s Dioni Vision announced plans to make a sequel to the original movie.
In addition to the ₦50 million, Njemanze is also asking for ₦5 million for the cost of litigation and lawyers fees incurred, as well as for an order of injunction restraining the defendants or any other person from using her trademark (Domitila) or any other mark that is deceptively similar to the registered trademark.
While her legal representative, Bartholomew Aguegbodo, has reportedly declined to comment on the issue, he did confirm to Premium Times that the case is in court.
The case was filed in the Federal High Court of Nigeria with suit number FHC/L/CS/2305/2022.
Zeb Ejiro responds with a countersuit
The veteran filmmaker has reacted by serving the actress with a countersuit for ₦500 million.
He described her lawsuit as a gold-digging exercise in a statement of defence filed by his lawyers led by Rockson Igelige.
Speaking with Premium Times, Ejiro said, “I offered her ₦5m, not knowing she had gone behind me to trademark my intellectual property. I have been using the name for a long time. I have taken ‘Domitilla’ to film festivals all over the world. We had to abandon the script and start a new script. The next thing was she came with the police calling a thief in public. She even went with the police to FilmOne, our partner, to search their office. I tried to reach out to her, but she refused to pick up my calls. I had to ask the heads of different guilds to intervene.”
He also revealed that he did offer her a role in the remake.
In his words, “Now it’s time for a reboot, but because she is now much older, we decided to give her a role as the aunt to one of the characters, but she was asking for ₦17m for only five scenes.”
Ejiro and the other defendants have issued a statement denying her allegations.
“The 1st Defendant’s principal (Zeb Ejiro Productions Limited) has been using the word continuously since 1996 in marketing the films before the date of the Plaintiff’s alleged application for registration and or purported registration of ‘Domitilla & Device’ as a trade mark,” their defence reads.
According to Ejiro’s legal representative, Igelige, he has been instructed by the filmmaker to serve the actress with a countersuit for breach of confidence.
“We will be asking her for ₦500m for using confidential information that she has access to during her role as an actress in the production of ‘Domitilla’ 1 and 2,” he told Premium Times.
The reboot of ‘Domitilla’ is set to be released early next month. Like the original, it follows sex workers, four in particular—Ekwutosi, Fisayo, Promise, and Madam Vee—and the choices they make and the domino effects of their choices.
It stars Chiwetalu Agwu, Elvina Ibru, Onyinye Odokoro, Stan Nze, Teniola Aladese, Uzoamaka Doris Aniunoh, Ejiro Onojaife, Seun Ajayi, Okey Jude, Chioma Okafor, Chinyere Wilfred, and Sonny Mcdon.
For now, we do not know if this ongoing lawsuit will affect the release of ‘Domitilla: The Reboot,’ scheduled for release on April 7, 2023.