By Eric Elezuo
The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the royalty collecting organization for musicians in Nigeria, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to order over his alleged role in the faceoff between the society and another body, known as Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN).
The Chairman of the Society, Chief Tony Okoroji, made this declaration during a press briefing held at the COSON House, on Oluwailemu Street, Ikeja.
Okoroji, who recently survived a ploy to oust him from office by a section of the COSON board of directors, said that the Society is protesting what he described as ‘frightening new assault’ on both the judiciary and the Nigerian music industry, adding that a set of people, with the backing of the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, are bent on creating an avenue ‘where those who have made no investments nor contributions to the industry can cart away illicit billions of Naira while the true creators and investors in the industry lavish in penury’.
Saying that the protest, which has been ongoing since January 15, will be indefinite until the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) is returned to the ministry charged with the responsibility of supervising cultural and entertainment related matters as provided by the Nigeria Copyright Act in Section 51, the Chairman noted that the schemes of MCSN, which he alleged arm twisted the judiciary to manipulate justice, knows no bound.
He narrated that members of the MCSN syndicate cleverly infiltrated the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba’s home, and one thing leading to another, judgment was stalled.
He said: “The key question Justice Buba was scheduled to answer in his judgment is this: Under Nigerian law, is the syndicate, Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) truly an approved collecting society authorized to collect money on behalf of innocent Nigerian musicians? Some people do not want that question answered hence the muscling of Justice Buba.”
Going down memory lane, Okoroji highlighted how it all began in 2017 with Malami sending a letter to NCC to approve MCSN as a collecting society. Though the NCC gave the AGF reasons why his actions were unlawful, he did not bulge. Rather, he ordered the immediate licensing of MCSN as well as withdrawal of all alleged criminal cases against MCSN and his key members. He further told the gathering of press members that his efforts to get a reprieve by meeting the AGF in company of another board member of COSON, Azeezat, was greeted with a simple ‘give me seven days’. But this promise has not received any attention still date, in spite of repeated correspondences via text messages, e-mail and phone calls.
To add insult to injury, a Special Assistant to the President on Research and Special Projects, who according to Okoroji, is also a close associate of the AGF, Mr. Sylvester Imhanode, starting him insulting messages where he used expressions such as ‘ignorant fool’, ‘idiot’, ‘adulterous man’, ‘bastard’ among others.
Okoroji also believes that the plot to decimate and bring down COSON led to the infiltration of its rank and file, which led to a coup of some sort earlier in the year where Okoroji was bundled out of office by a few members of the board.
The Society therefore, demanded the sack of the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati, who it observed has not lived up to expectation as he is ‘being played like a tambourine and has become a turntable through which many of this bad music is coming out of the Federal High Court’.
In addition, COSON also called on the National Judicial Council and the National Assembly to ensure a full and transparent probe of the activities of the Ministry of Justice and the Federal High Court.