Chief Tony Okoroji, COSON Chairman
The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has concluded arrangements to commence the payment of royalties to eligible members from Monday, February 18, 2019. This is in fulfillment of its contractual obligations to right owners as well as carrying out its mandate as the best managed Collective Management Organisation (CMO) in the country.
COSON Board Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, made the disclosure in a telephone exchange with www.beats-onit.com.ng on Sunday, February 17, 2019, pointing out that the process experienced an unprecedented delay on account of the evil machinations of some forces intent on scuttling the smooth and well-meaning disposition of the society’s operations.
In December 2018, it will be recalled, Pretty Okafor with Toju Ejueyitchie of Premier Music and Ivory Music went behind the backs of the leadership of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) to obtain an ex-parte court injunction to freeze the bank accounts of COSON, which impinged adversely on its plan to fulfill its obligation of paying royalties to over 4,000 COSON members as it was the tradition every December since its inception eight years ago.
However, on February 6, 2019, the tables were turned at the Federal High Court Lagos as Hon. Justice Mohammed Hassan did not only discharged the ex-parte order, but struck out the entire case of Pretty Okafor, Toju Ejueyitichie’s Premier Music and Ivory Music.
The judge held that there was significant suppression of facts in the application based on which the order was granted; that the court lacked jurisdiction to even hear the case.
Although, there were still slight grey areas to perfect in some of the bank transactions, Okoroji said, COSON can comfortably start disbursing monies to members from Monday just as he maintained that the efforts of adversaries to rubbish the society’s well-intentioned plans for the copyright owners amounted to evil trying to conquer good which can never be possible.
In a desperate bid to obtain the discarded injunction, www.beats-onit.com.ng learnt, Pretty Okafor in his name and on behalf of Premier Music and Ivory Music swore to an affidavit in which they entered into an undertaking that they would pay damages to COSON if at the end of the day, it was determined that the injunction ought not to have been granted.
COSON lawyer, James Ononiwu of the Whitedove Solicitors has written to Pretty Okafor, Premier Music and Ivory Music demanding from them the sum of =N=150 Million Naira in damages in accordance with their undertaking.
In the letters dated February 12, 2019, Mr. Ononiwu wrote, “There is no question that the Interim Orders of Mareva Injunction obtained by you and referred to herein ought not to have been granted as it was obtained fraudulently, with significant suppression and concealment of facts and is a product of a terrible abuse of the processes of the Federal High Court.
“As a result of the said Interim Orders of Mareva Injunction of 30th November, 2018, resulting in the freezing of the 1st Defendant’s bank accounts in Diamond Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd and United Bank for Africa Plc, the 1st Defendant has been subjected to a harrowing period and has suffered severe damages”
Mr. Ononiwu enumerated the damages to include the inability to pay staff salaries and allowances for a significant period including the Christmas Period of 2018 and New Year, 2019 and the mental anguish suffered by the over 4,000 members of COSON whose royalties remained unpaid as at the time due.
According to the COSON lawyer, “Consistent with the undertaking entered by you for damages, a condition under which the said orders were made, our client by this letter demands from the Plaintiffs the sum of =N=150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) jointly and severally as damages for the Interim Orders of Mareva Injunction of 30th November, 2018 which you obtained against our clients fraudulently, with significant suppression and concealment of facts and which is a product of a terrible abuse of the processes of the Federal High Court”.
In conclusion, Mr. Ononiwu wrote, “Be informed that if within fourteen days of the receipt of this letter, you fail, neglect or refuse to meet the demands of our client, our instructions are to use every process known to law to ensure that you meet your obligations to our clients”.