Nollywood actress, Anne Njemanze, is suing legendary filmmaker, Zeb Ejiro, along with FilmOne Entertainment and Film Trybe Media for N50 million.
She rose to fame playing the titular character in a 1996 original film with the trademark name: “Domitilla,” in 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 ₦N50 million, Njemanze is also asking for N5 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 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.
The veteran filmmaker has reacted by serving the actress with a countersuit for N500 million.
Ejiro 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 N5m, 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 me 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.
“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 N17 million 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 N500m 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, it is not clear if this ongoing lawsuit will affect the release of: “Domitilla: The Reboot,” scheduled for April 7, 2023.