A US-based intellectual property lawyer, Professor, Samuel Andrews, has urged the National Films and Videos Censors Board, NFVCB, to focus on rating and classifying movies rather than censorship or banning.

The NFVCB reviews and classifies films before they can be distributed in Nigeria or exhibited in local cinemas.

It scrutinises content for themes related to violence, sexual explicitness, drug use, and other potentially offensive material.

The board issues guidelines that filmmakers must follow to obtain clearance for their works and avoid censorship.

This sometimes causes self-censorship, where filmmakers preemptively alter their content to ensure it meets regulatory standards.

Foreign films are also subjected to review, with the NFVCB initiating a partnership of mutual understanding with OTT Video platforms before local distribution.

The board also has the authority to ban films or require cuts and edits to scenes once they are deemed inappropriate.

Andrews described Nollywood films as rightly depicting Nigeria’s realities, culture, and history.

He however expressed concern that the censorship or ban of certain categories of movies may stifle the creativity of industry practitioners.

The lawyer said the NFVCB should focus on the effective and realistic regulation of films, rather than banning or censoring.

“The government should revert to its drawing board and approach this issue smartly, based on the current global standards,” he added.

“National policies to regulate citizens’ conduct should not include arbitrary abuse of power or infringement of the citizen’s creative rights.

“The desired outcome of NFVCB properly implementing its duties should be to propel Nollywood’s creatives to spur Nigeria’s economic situation towards growth.”

Andrews called for reforms in the statutory and operational framework of the NFVCB.

He said this will ensure a more effective approach to regulating artistic and literary works.

In May 2024, Hannatu Musawa, the minister for culture and creative economy, approved a regulation prohibiting ritual themes in Nollywood.

The regulation also bans the display of tobacco products, nicotine promotion, and glamorisation in movies, musical vi0deos, and skits.