Nigeria to establish legal framework for Geographic Indications

Nigeria to establish legal framework for Geographic Indications

By Perpetual Onuegbu
The Federal Government is poised to establish appropriate legal framework for Geographic Indications (GIs) to protect its indigenous products as a further panacea for poverty reduction, community development and social inclusiveness.
A geographical indication (GI) is a distinctive sign used to identify a product whose quality, reputation or other such characteristics relate to its geographical origin.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami,  said this in Abuja at the National Conference on Creating Legal and Institutional Framework for Geographical Indications in Nigeria.
The AGF, who was represented by Ms Ifunanya Nwajagu, Director, Legal Drafting at the ministry, said GIs represented economic opportunities in rural areas, leading to more rural jobs and stronger rural communities.
“Therefore, for Nigeria to avail itself of the opportunities and benefits of its Geographic Indications, our efforts must begin at home, with the establishment of an appropriate legal framework.
“Supported by robust efforts to promote the GIs in formalising the traditional knowledge and techniques employed by originating geographic regions, standardising methods of production, and actively driving recognition for Geographic Indications in international trade.
“To be or not to be, depends on a carefully grafted legal and institutional framework that meets the needs of today while guaranteeing the future and bearing in mind, global and continental trends in the fields of geographical indications.
He stated that the legal framework would set out the roles and procedures for the actualization of geographical indications to be recognized and protected locally to be recognized internationally too.
He pledged the Federal Ministry of Justice determination to lend its support and collaborate with the stakeholders towards the birthing of a reliable legal instrument for it.
“The time has come to move away from oil economy.
“Surely, the time has come to embrace green economy through economic drive powered by geographical indications for which Nigeria is richly endowed in quality assets and products.
“The right to use a geographical name belongs to the community of producers in a given area.
“And, empowers those who are involved in the origin of so many wonderful products, thereby, making Geographic Indications the perfect tool for local development,” he said.
Speaking further on the relevance of Legal framework to back GIs he said that the country had varieties of unique agricultural and natural products that should benefit from GIs.
, “It is worthy of mention that we currently have varieties of unique agricultural and natural products that qualify as geographical indications such as “sokoto goats’ skin”, “Ijebu garri”, “skin hide of Kano”, “Kilishi”, “Yaji” (dry pepper), “Ose Nsukka” (Yellow pepper), “Aso Oke, “Adire”, “Ofada Rice”, “fura” and many more.
“Yet, none of these have benefitted from any comprehensive registration, international recognition and commercialization,” he said.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo also said that  Federal Government in collaboration with the European Union were intensifying campaign for product specification as a means to increase the exportation of unique products in Nigeria.
The minister commended the EU and European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) specifically, for funding the Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation in Africa (AfriPi project).
According to him, the AfriPI Project has gone a long way in supporting African companies, creators and inventors to generate value from their intellectual property.
“For many years, stakeholders from both the public and private sector in Nigeria have worked hard to promote and draw attention to geographical indications and other forms of intellectual property protection in Nigeria.
“The benefits obtainable from geographical indications in Nigeria are immense. Nigeria Is one of the most culturally diverse societies in the world. We can boast of a wide variety of products that can be classified as GI.
“These range from the popular Ijebu garri to Nsukka Yellow Pepper, the Sokoto Red Skin Goat and the famous Yauri Onions.
“Unfortunately, poor knowledge of geographical Indications and the absence of a specific legal framework has rendered our unique products more vulnerable to misappropriation”, he added.
A Professor of intellectual property at the University of Lagos, Prof. Adejoke Oyewunmi said the functions of the GIs must be clearly stated on the Draft law for GIs.
Oyewunmi also called for collaborations between Nigeria and other countries especially with the coming of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement to promote Geographical Indications in Nigeria.
The post FG to establish legal framework for Geographic Indications first appeared on News Agency of Nigeria.

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