The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has suspended the operating licence of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).
An entertainment lawyer, Akinyemi Ayinoluwa, shared the news on his official Instagram page on Friday. He posted a copy of the ruling, which was ‘authorised’ by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
COSON’s Head, Corporate Affairs, Chibueze Okereke, also confirmed the development in an interview on Friday, saying that COSON’s lawyers headed by Uche Val Obi (SAN) are challenging NCC’s ruling at the court of appeal.
According to the new ruling, COSON is no longer authorised under law to collect royalties on behalf of and for musicians and other performing artists in Nigeria.
The Commission is the government agency empowered by law to oversee the affairs of COSON and other agencies under its supervision.
This comes after a petition written by artiste, 2face Idibia to the Commission asking it to wade into the crisis at COSON between its chairman Tony Okoroji and Efe Omorogbe.
Efe Omorogbe continues to insist that he is the recognised chairman of COSON.
Some members of the commission’s board installed Mr Omorogbe as the new chairman, having legally recalled Mr Okoroji from his position as chairman of COSON. This happened in December.
The former was replaced over allegations of impropriety.
It was alleged that Mr Okoroji collects 10 per cent commission on licensing income deemed to have been brought in by him and primarily, because he contracts COSON projects and events to his company, TOPS Limited.
Despite Mr Omorogbe’s election, Mr Okoroji was reinstated as the chairman at an extraordinary general meeting of COSON, held on December 19.
A faction of the board loyal to Mr Okoroji reinstated him and sacked those who voted for Mr Omorogbe.
The crisis got messier in April as police from Zone II Command Headquarters, Onikan, Lagos, arraigned Mr Omorogbe before an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court, Lagos, for alleged impersonation and forgery.
According to the prosecuting officer, Friday Mameh, the defendants (Mr Omorogbe and others) had stormed the meeting of venue of the COSON chairman, with thugs on December 7, 2017 and conducted themselves (in a manner) likely to cause breach of peace.
Mr Mameh alleged that Mr Omorogbe and others forged the COSON letter-headed papers, “with intent to defraud, knowingly use the forged COSON letter headed with intent that it may in anyway be used or acted upon as genuine whether in Nigeria or elsewhere to the prejudice of COSON.”
Mr Omorogbe and others pleaded not guilty.
Their counsel, S. Ehiwelele and Chibuzor Nwankobi had prayed the court to admit them to bail on liberal terms.