Movie producers have countered claims by the police over the arrest of a filmmaker in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Hector Ekike, a movie prop manager, was arrested by police officers with ‘prop guns’ on Monday.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that Mr Ekike was on his way to a movie location to deliver the prop guns when he was arrested.
The police spokesperson in Akwa Ibom State, Odiko MacDon, said in a statement that Mr Ekike was arrested with eight locally fabricated AK47 rifles, one pump action, one pistol and six dane guns.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect is an elder who specialises in making and selling locally made rifles and other types of guns to criminal elements who use same in terrorising innocent members of the public,” Mr MacDon, a superintendent of police, said.
He said the state commissioner of Police, Amiengheme Andy, has ordered investigation into the case in order to arrest those “who enjoy his (Ekike) patronage and other conspirators”.
Checks by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that Mr Ekike was credited as prop manager for Nollywood movies like Wicked Queen, Missing Princess, Broken Sceptre, and 1929.
Movie producers react
Aniebiet Francis, the state chairman, Association of Movie Producers, said that prop guns are used by movie producers because they are easier to get and safer than real guns.
“The prop guns are used for movies because sometimes, to get real guns from the police is a long journey, and many producers may not even have the resources. Sometimes, if you don’t have the connection, they won’t give you. So movie producers resort to these locally make-believe kinds of guns,” she said.
She said it was wrong for the police to circulate Mr Ekike’s picture on the internet and tag him a criminal when they have no evidence to that effect.
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Ms Francis, assured that there were efforts to get the police to release Mr Ekike.
She said there would be training for filmmakers in the state to avoid a reoccurrence of such an incident.
“From what I have gathered, he just had them in a bag in his car and was on his way to a movie scene and it has been confirmed that they are shooting film, which is what he does.
“Our issue is, if the investigation is still going on and they have not yet caught one criminal that confirms that he (Ekike) supplies him guns, they should not splash the boy’s picture all over the internet and tag him a criminal,” she added.
Chidebere Solomon, a movie producer, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Ekike was coming to his (Solomon) movie location with the prop guns.
Mr Solomon, who disclosed that he was in the state to reshoot some scenes of a television production, said the shooting was rescheduled after the crew had waited in vain at the location for the props from Mr Ekike who did not show up.
“It’s true, he (Ekike) was coming for a movie set. We shot a job previously which we did for a particular production house outside the state. There were missing clips in the video, so there is a demand for a reshoot.
“In the case of reshooting a video, it has to be done the exact way the first shoot was done. But the guy that handled our props the first time was not in Akwa Ibom, so when I asked him where he rented them, he told me it was Hector who owns the props that were used in the previous.
“So, I got his (Hector) number and called him to bring the props. I was surprised to read on the internet that the guy is an armed robber,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES also spoke with two other movie producers – Moses Eskor and Generation Paul – who have worked with Mr Ekike for years.
Both confirmed that Mr Ekike is not an armed robber, but a prop manager.