An accountant, Boboye Olaribigbe, has accused the National Youth Service Corps of refusing to pay him the copyright value of a language project he executed for the scheme more than a decade ago.
He demanded N260m as costs for the project while threatening to take legal action if the demand was not met.
Olaribigbe, while speaking to PUNCH Metro, said he got approval to convert the NYSC Language Handbook into an audio format in 2006.
He said the concept, which he developed after his service year as a corps member in Enugu State, was aimed at solving language problems encountered by corps members in the country.
The 43-year-old noted that he sourced different language experts, who participated in the project, adding that the audio was produced in compact disks and cassettes.
Olaribigbe, who claimed to have got a letter of approval for the project from a former Director-General of the NYSC, Brig. Gen. Yusuf Bomoi, said he successfully executed the project.
“The NYSC is the owner of the language book comprising Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo, but I came up with the idea to put it in audio format so that every corps member can learn the languages on their own,” he said.
His lawyer, Mr. Amara Ibekwe, on November 12, 2019, wrote a letter to the NYSC demanding payment for the project.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent, stated, “We established that our client served in your institution as a youth corps member in 2004/2005 in Enugu State with NYSC no: EN/EPA/04/184142, certificate no: A892295, trading under the name and style of Maltbrains Nigeria Limited.
“After his service as a corps member, he created an idea to help the institution and Nigerian youths undergoing grooming and training under your institution with a view to making a profit from it.
“Our client wrote a letter to your institution informing them of how he had invented a medium of translating the language handbook of the NYSC into audiotape and CD in Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa languages.
“Your institution welcomed the development and even wrote a letter of introduction approving his application and further gave him the go-ahead to produce the same and promised to purchase the entire copyright from him, which prompted our client to expend more energy, time, money and expertise to accomplish the work.”
He added that it was a shock to Olaribigbe that the NYSC “circumvented and neglected his brainchild” and disregarded his work.
“It is based on the above premise that our client has written several letters and appeals for compensation, all to no avail. We demand on behalf of our client the following:
“The copyright value of the project which was the main reason he executed the project.
“The cost of each of the languages translated are N60,000,000 for Hausa; N60,000,000 for Igbo, and N60,000,000 for Yoruba, totalling N180,000,000.
“Estimated profit accruable to him, if he was assisted to sell his products in all the NYSC camps based on the terms of the approval given: N70,000,000.
“To cushion the effect of traveling from Lagos to Abuja, from time to time to follow-up the application until it was approved, N10,000,000. The grand total stands at N260,000,000,” the lawyer said.
PUNCH Metro obtained another letter dated February 7, 2020, written by Ibekwe as a reminder, urging the NYSC to pay the former corps member.
“It is obvious that your institution has taken the slowness of a lion for an act of cowardice.
“We shall invoke the powers of judicial review over this issue if neglected and the same shall have a forceful claim until justice is done. Let wise counsel prevail,” Ibekwe added.
The lawyer copied the Ministry of Youths and Sports, the National Orientation Agency, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Deputy Director of Community Development Service, NYSC, Sunday Oyinke, urged Olaribigbe to be patient.
He said, “He has already contracted a lawyer, who wrote to us. The lawyer has given us a time limit to respond. Let him be patient; this is not the way to go about it.”