The Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) has described the disbursement of N50m by Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) to musicians to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus lockdown as illegal.
In a statement signed by Chairman, MCSN, Orits Wiliki, the group urged the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to take immediate and urgent step to secure the property and assets illegally acquired and step up its regulatory and enforcement activities in the Nigerian creative sector.
Part of the statement reads:
It has come to the notice of the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria Ltd/Gte (MCSN) the announcement made by Chief Tony Okoroji of his decision on the behest of the extinct company, Copyright Society of Nigeria Limited by Guarantee (COSON), to share the sum of Fifty Million Naira (N50,000,000.00) to musicians on its register in order to cushion the effect of the Covid-19 Lockdown on them.
Ordinarily, this would have been a very laudable and commendable gesture but for a company which a court of competent jurisdiction has declared illegal and with other pending actions bothering on accountability hanging on the defunct company and its managers; the intention and action smell of serious illegitimacy and criminality.
MCSN sees this as nothing short of a grand plan to deflate and loot whatever assets that may have been acquired in the name of the extinct company, COSON.
Apprehending that this kind of illegalities would be unleashed on the commonwealth of Nigerian creators and their affiliates, MCSN had in the past weeks notified the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to urgently move to secure the property and assets acquired under the name of the illegal COSON and we still trust that the NCC would act with speed in order to prevent a state of fait accompli been heaved on it.
People might want to ask that what is the interest of MCSN in the assets acquired by “COSON”, but the answer is simply that a good portion of the assets belong to MCSN ab initio for the following facts:
- Most of the earnings made by the defunct COSON when it was paraded as the sole Collective Management Organisation in the music industry in Nigeria were on MCSN’s repertoire whose authors, composers, publishers and affiliates remain members, assignors and licensors of MCSN till date.
- MCSN has a pending case in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1172/17: Musical Copyright Society Nigeria Ltd/Gte vs. Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte & Chief Tony Okoroji, in which MCSN is asking COSON (now extinct) and Chief Tony Okoroji to account for and remit to MCSN all the monies they collected on MCSN’s repertoire from 2009 till date or at any other time at all. All preliminary or interlocutory applications filed by COSON and Tony Okoroji to prevent the trial of the case have all been dismissed and trial would have commenced but for the current lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- There is also pending another matter in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1267/2012: MCSN vs. COSON & 7 ORS in which the Federal High Court presided over by Honourable Justice Idris (as he then was) ordered Tony Okoroji and COSON on November 27, 2012 not to distribute royalties collected then but which Okoroji disobeyed. Contempt proceeding was commenced against Okoroji which he appealed, thinking he can escape justice. That matter is still hot and pending in the courts and Okoroji and his co-travellers cannot pretend not to be aware of this matter, as they will surely be brought to book.
From the foregoing, and going by the very recent judgment of the Federal High Court striking down COSON from the register of incorporated companies in Nigeria, which declared the incorporation and approval of COSON illegal, it was clear that Chief Okoroji should immediately be held accountable for whatever business he might have used the illegal title or name of COSON to do or acquire in the country and around the world.
We hereby once again call on the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to take immediate and urgent step to secure the property and assets illegally acquired under the illegal name of COPYRIGHT SOCIETY OF NIGERIA LTD/GTE (COSON) and step up its regulatory and enforcement activities in the Nigerian creative sector.