James Ononiwu, a lawyer to Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the COSON Chairman, Tony Okoroji and other senior staff of COSON, has on behalf of his clients demanded the sum of One Billion Naira from the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Afam Ezekude for allegedly making several patently false, baseless and malicious statements clearly intended by Ezekude to demean Tony Okoroji and the staff of COSON and to incite stakeholders in the Nigerian music industry and other right thinking persons across the world against COSON and its officials.
Ononiwu, the COSON lawyer, specifically referred to a very detailed press release dated 9th October 2018 titled ‘’Nigerian Copyright Commission Charges Chief Okoroji and other officers of COSON to court for operating as a collecting society without approval’’ which statement he said was authored by Mr. Ezekude and published on several internet sites around the world and circulated to and read by numerous people across the world.
In a letter just despatched to the NCC DG, Ononiwu said that he had been instructed by his clients to also demand a retraction by Ezekude of the allegedly false and injurious statements published against his clients and to tender a conspicuous and unreserved apology to them published on specific websites, Facebook, Whatsapp, the Guardian Newspaper, the Sun Newspaper, and the Punch and Vanguard Newspapers within 14 days of the receipt of his letter.
Ezekude was also warned that if he fails, refuses or neglects to meet the demands, every instruments and processes allowed by the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be deployed to seek redress against him.
It will be recalled that in a recent public statement, Mr. Ononiwu declared categorically that COSON is operating with a valid CMO approval. According to Mr. Ononiwu, “We wish to state emphatically that COSON’s operations are 100% in consonance with Nigerian law. According to Mr. Ononiwu, “There is no court order anywhere restraining COSON from carrying out its functions as a collective management organization. There is also no court order of any type restraining any COSON official from maintaining his or her position. The COSON Board is united. The membership continues to grow exponentially. The management remains solid. Anyone who visits the magnificent COSON House in Ikeja today will see a world class operation with very well trained personnel in a first rate environment”.
Ononiwu also warned, “We hereby stress that every public or commercial user of musical works or sound recordings in the COSON repertoire MUST obtain a COSON licence before such use. We wish to remind such users that musical works and sound recordings are intellectual property owned by citizens and not the property of the NCC. There is no circumstance in which the NCC has power to authorize anyone to use such property for free. We wish to assure everyone who is tempted to ignore this warning that there will be consequences”