On this 20th day of May 2020, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the official take-off of the operations of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) which has become Nigeria’s must successful and most admired copyright collective management organization.
Mr. James Ononiwu, renowned lawyer to COSON, Nigeria’s biggest and most successful copyright collective management organization, has stoutly condemned the recent attack by the leadership of Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN), of the ongoing distribution of =N=50 Million Naira by COSON to musicians across the country who are traumatized by the Coronavirus lockdown.
In a swift response to the attack, Mr. James Ononiwu. Principal Partner in the Lagos law firm of Whitedove Solicitors, described the attack as “wicked, despicable and evidence of incurable bad belle”
Mr. Ononiwu wondered how any musician or anyone who claims to love musicians can find fault with the responsible and responsive action taken by the leadership of COSON to alleviate the suffering of their members across the country at a time of their greatest need. Said Mr. Ononiwu, “the unquestionably positive reactions of hundreds of musicians and thousands of other Nigerians to the brilliant step taken by the COSON Board can be found on every social media platform and practically every newspaper in the land. Many musicians in every state of Nigeria are happy and openly praying for the leadership of COSON. Why is that disturbing the sleep of these funny people at MCSN? Did COSON distribute MCSN money? This is not the first or second or third royalty distribution by COSON, an organization that has distributed hundreds of millions of naira to its members and commissioned the sparkling and magnificent COSON House while MCSN has little or nothing to show except never ending bad belle. Can’t the people at MCSN see that this is no time for their degenerate brand of politics? What is the business of a CMO if not to collect and distribute royalties?”
Said the fiery Lagos lawyer, “This a defining moment in the affairs of man. Across the world, true leaders are being seen for who they are and retrogrades are also being seen. COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, has once again displayed the attributes of a first-class leader that has made him a Nigerian icon. His understanding of the situation, his humanness, decisiveness and the detailed and transparent execution of the relief distribution will certainly go down in the history of the Nigerian creative industry and the nation.
“Meanwhile, the leaders of MCSN who were sleeping while Nigerians have been going through a harrowing experience, suddenly woke up from their slumber and kick started their usual grumbling and quarreling and finger pointing and rabble rousing while people are in deep pain. Can’t they see that this is no time for such nonsense? Don’t these guys know when to shut up? Don’t they have any milk of human kindness in them at all? I know that thousands of musicians across Nigeria have received their royalties while some have not. I wish to assure every COSON member who is yet to receive his relief royalty that MCSN cannot stop the distribution and that their money is on the way”
In conclusion, Mr. Ononiwu said, “I have seen the litany of cases mentioned in the ill-advised press statement issued by the leadership of MCSN and their jaundiced and self-serving reasoning and claims. I am a lawyer and I know that in Nigeria, we do not try cases on social media platforms or blogs. If these guys who have shown no modicum of empathy for the suffering of the musicians they claim to represent, truly believe that COSON has done something wrong, let them meet us in court. I and other COSON lawyers will be waiting for them”.
Starting from Tuesday evening, thousands of musicians across the country would receive bank alerts as Anti-Corona Emergency Relief Distribution from COSON, Nigeria’s biggest and most respected copyright collective management organization. The distribution is in reaction to the hardship and distress being faced by many musicians in Nigeria who have been affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the current lockdown which has also stopped entertainment activities across the country.
For the distribution, the COSON Board has approved the sum of 50 Million Naira to be shared amongst about 4,500 members on the society’s register as at May 19, 2019.
In the midst of the current crisis and following several S.O.S. messages from COSON members facing deep hardship all over the nation, the COSON Board over the weekend, met online in an emergency session and after vigorous discussions, approved the distribution.
Speaking on the development, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji said, “I have personally received calls from several members of COSON who are desperate for immediate assistance of any kind. Other members of our Board have received similar messages. At a time like this, COSON must be responsible and responsive to the needs of our members and we should do everything we can to help them wade through these hard times. That is the very reason why COSON was set up. I am proud of the quick response of members of the COSON Board who showed great understanding that we must be our brothers’ keeper at a time like this.
“Starting immediately, with the co-operation of the banks, each qualified member of COSON will receive a modest sum of eleven thousand naira in what we have termed Anti-Coronavirus Emergency Relief (ACER) General Distribution. We are able to do this because of the deft management of our resources. We wish we could do more. I however believe that most people are aware of what we have been through in recent times. Let me thank the COSON management team of Vincent Adawaisi, Isa Aruna and Anthony Imuse who burnt the midnight oil to ensure that the decision of the Board is executed with dispatch”.
On outstanding Specific Distributions, the COSON Chairman said, “Every member of the Board is very eager that all outstanding specific distributions should be paid without any delay. The issue was prominent in our discussions on the emergency relief distribution. While the Board and the General Assembly have approved the specific distributions, it is common knowledge that COSON funds in two banks are frozen. The money for the specific distributions is domiciled in the frozen accounts. The money is safe. Not one Naira is missing. It is also common knowledge that we have gone to court to have the accounts unfrozen and immediately that happens, the money will be paid. In any case, all those entitled to Specific distribution will also receive the Anti-Coronavirus Emergency Relief (ACER) General Distribution.
“It is unfortunate that it is some of our colleagues that requested the banks to freeze the accounts which has brought this suffering to innocent COSON members and even to those who took the action. That is why we need to be very careful about what we say and what we do.”
“I hope that we will use this very challenging period to think deeply. We have built COSON to be there for musicians through thick and thin. We work hard to ensure that COSON takes care of musicians while they are alive and celebrates them even in death. Has anyone forgotten how in an unprecedented manner we buried the late Ras Kimono like a king?
Said the COSON Chairman, “Some people may think that because things are going well for them today, they will never need COSON. I have been in the industry long enough to know that the day will come when each of us needs an institution like COSON. When I hear people in our industry call on government to clamp down on COSON or that those who owe us money should not pay us, I ask why anyone would choose to urinate into a well from which he might soon draw water to drink when he is desperately thirsty”
Concluded Chief Okoroji, “I know that I cannot please everyone but I am working hard every day to lift up the musicians of Nigeria, promote and defend our industry and provide visible solutions to the problems of each of us. I have absolutely no interest in the cantankerous name calling and rabid character assassination which many appear to dwell in and which do not provide even one cup of garri for any Nigerian artiste or one cube of Maggi for his pot of soup”.
Lawyer to Chief Tony Okoroji, COSON Chairman, Mr. James Ononoiwu of Whitedove Solicitors has confirmed that arrangements have been concluded to refile the N100 Million slander case brought by Chief Okoroji against Mr. Obi Ezeilo of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) at the High Court of Enugu State. This follows the decision of the Lagos High Court Judge, Hon Justice A.M. Lawal that since the slander commenced in Enugu, the matter should be filed in Enugu.
According to Mr. Ononiwu, “Chief Okoroji’s case was never dismissed. The matter was only struck out. Those familiar with the practice of law know that there is a world of difference between the two. When a case is dismissed, it is dead except on appeal. When a case is struck out, it can be refilled as is being done in this matter. I was in court when the judge read his ruling. even though I was not the lawyer on record.
“If I were Mr. Ezeilo who was not in court and did not listen to the ruling, I would not celebrate because this natter is still very much alive. Mr. Ezeilo had three grounds of objection to the suit. On his first ground of objection which was that he was entitled to a 3 months pre-action notice as an officer of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, the Judge vehemently disagreed with him. On his second ground of objection that Chief Okoroji had not disclosed any cause of action against him, the Judge disagreed saying that the words spoken by Mr. Ezeilo against Chief Okoroji were slanderous and that Chief Okoroji had a well-known reputation capable of being damaged by Mr. Ezeilo’s words. The judge confirmed that he is one of the many judges who have read Chief Tony Okoroji’s book, Copyright & the New Millionaires used by judges and lawyers to resolve copyright cases across the country”.
Added Mr. Ononiwu, “Anyone who knows Chief Tony Okoroji knows that he is a long-distance runner. He is brilliant, very analytical and very calm. He does not take decisions in a hurry. He is a leader’s leader. Chief Tony Okoroji is a great believer in the Nigerian judicial system. He understands that it takes patience to achieve your goal in a court of law and in this matter, he has made it clear that he understands that patience is required.
“Very soon, Mr. Obi Ezeilo will have to head to Enugu to answer to Chief Tony Okoroji”
Lawyers to Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), G.O. Sodipo & Co, have today filed an immediate Notice of Appeal and Motion for Stay of Execution at the Federal High Court, Lagos with respect to the judgment of Hon Justice Saliu Saidu delivered today which raised issues on the name of the society.
COSON wishes to assure all its members, affiliates, licensees, reciprocal representation partners and the general public that there is no judgment anywhere saying that COSON is dead or has ceased to exist. The general public is aware of the gang-up to destroy COSON for no other reason than that COSON has been phenomenally successful. Nothing the adversaries have done has stopped COSON from standing tall. Anyone who thinks that events today will stop COSON is daydreaming. Indeed, COSON is working!
With all due respect to the learned judge, we vehemently disagree with his decision, for very good reasons. We have asked our lawyers to forcefully appeal the judge’s decision up to the Supreme Court, if necessary. By filing the processes in court today without any delay, the lawyers have shown that they are equal to the task. Like most people know, the beauty of the judicial system in a democracy is that no decision is final until the Supreme Court has spoken. We have 100% confidence that the name COSON, will continue to shine bright across the Nigerian nation and across the world for many years to come.
Renowned lawyer to Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Mr. James Ononiwu of the Lagos based Whitedove Solicitors, has said that the recent statements by self-styled factional President of PMAN, Mr. Pretty Okafor, with questionable followership and questionable address, in which Okafor has attacked COSON, are based on blatant falsehood, complete fabrication, incurable desire to be relevant, burning envy and malice of the worst kind and that the statements are defamatory in every sense and deserve to be fully confronted.
Mr. Ononiwu has given Mr. Okafor two weeks to publish an unreserved public apology to the members of COSON or face the kind of legal action that he will not forget for the rest of his life.
According to Mr. Ononiwu, “It is a fact that at no time did KPMG or any other auditing firm inspect the books of COSON or do any kind of audit of COSON and discover that COSON collected over N1.1 Billion in royalty and licensing fees from users in 2017 and distributed only N225 million to right holders as claimed by Okafor. We openly challenge the cantankerous Pretty Okafor to state when the said audit took place and name the officers who represented KPMG in the said audit which could have only taken place in the warped mind of Mr. Okafor. This is outright fabrication and a figment of the imagination of a sick man. The statements are very inciting and aimed at destroying the great respect and reputation that COSON has earned among decent people”.
Said Mr. Ononiwu, “We are not unaware that as a result of the bold actions recently taken by COSON to defend the integrity of the Nigerian creative industry, all kinds of charlatans and spent forces are being hired to manufacture dirt to rubbish COSON, a first class organization which is respected across the continent. They want to attack COSON to distract attention from their shameful activities. They will fail because COSON has nothing to hide.
“We wish to state emphatically that without the prompting of anyone, COSON has had its accounts audited every single year since its establishment, by auditors appointed by its Annual General Meetings as required by law. The audited accounts have been reviewed and approved openly by the COSON AGM in the presence of a cross section of the Nigerian media every year because COSON has nothing to hide. Each Annual Return has been filed with the Corporate Affairs Commission as required by law. Without any question, COSON has been by far the most transparent and accountable organization in the history of the Nigerian creative industry”.
Saying that Pretty Okafor cannot show anything of value he has done for the musicians of Nigeria and is consumed by his envy of the towering and very glittering achievements of COSON, Mr. Ononiwu asked “where are the audited accounts of Pretty Okafor’s ramshackle PMAN which shamelessly operates from no fixed address? Who audited the Okafor PMAN books? When were they filed with the Registrar of Trade Unions? When did the Registrar approve the returns? Indeed, how many people are parading themselves as PMAN President in Nigeria?”
Said Mr. Ononiwu, “Pretty Okafor may in the past have escaped with talking without discipline and self-control and not facing any consequences. This time, this meddlesome interloper who is not even a member of COSON and has no worthwhile repertoire assigned to COSON will be told that Nigeria is a nation of laws and he will be made to pay heavily for his outrageous behaviour”
Mr. James Ononiwu of Whitedove Solicitors, renowned lawyer to Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has swiftly reacted to a media statement jointly issued by Efe Omorogbe who led the failed 2017 “coup’ in COSON and his friend, Ibukun “Aibee” Abidoye of Chocolate City Music.
In separate but similar letters to Mr. Omorogbe and Ms. Abidoye titled “WARNING!” and dated March 20, 2020, Mr. Ononiwu took serious issues with the duo for attacking the 10 billion naira lawsuit recently filed by COSON against the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).
In his letter to Omorogbe, Mr. Ononiwu wrote, “Our attention has been drawn to an ill-advised statement dated March 19, 2020 credited to you and one Ibukun “Aibee” Abidoye in which you went on a tirade against our client in what is clearly another attempt to damage the image and hard won reputation of our client.
“We are not unaware of the likely frustration you may be going through as a result of the calamitous and disgraceful failure of your plot to hijack the Chairmanship of COSON and take over the society in 2017, a plot which the members of COSON overwhelmingly shot down. You are obviously unhappy that despite everything you have thrown at our client, in your rage at the wholesale rejection by the members of our client of your plot to take over COSON, our client continues to stand tall.
“We however did not believe that your desperation will get to the point where you will completely throw caution to the wind and publicly and openly become the judge in an important matter before a court of competent jurisdiction in which you are not even a party. How dare you!!!
Continued Mr. Ononiwu, “It appears that after three years of your misadventure, you are still daydreaming of leading COSON, an organization you have done everything to strangulate and impose punishment on its innocent members. Be told that your current attempt to desecrate the temple of justice will not be laughed at.
“Are you saying that the Nigerian Copyright Commission with its battery of lawyers is not competent to defend itself with respect to the weighty issues our client has brought to court or are you confirming the wide speculation that you have been working hand in hand with some people in the NCC in the attempt to strangulate COSON and impoverish the thousands of members of COSON? Are you saying that COSON which has been built on the constant questioning of the law no longer has any right to go to court to question the use or misuse of Nigerian law? Meanwhile, both you and Ms. Abidoye’s company are in court seeking judgment against our client!”
The fiery Lagos lawyer concluded by warning Efe Omorogbe and “Aibee Abidoye”. In the words of Mr. Ononiwu, “You are hereby severely warned that Nigeria remains a nation of laws and if you do not caution yourself and desist henceforth from being a self-appointed judge, publicly commenting and passing judgment on any of our client’s cases before any court of law, we will ensure that the full weight of the law is brought against you without any further reference to you”
Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation’s biggest copyright collective management organization, has gone to the Federal High Court to seek damages of eight billion naira from the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) for “the undemocratic, unlawful and unconstitutional ‘suspension’ of the approval and operating licence of the Plaintiff” and another two billion naira “for the significant loss of Reputation and Goodwill suffered by the Plaintiff and arising from the massive publicity sustained by the NCC against COSON following the undemocratic, unlawful and unconstitutional ‘suspension’ of the approval and operating licence of the Plaintiff and the unlawful directive that the bank accounts of the Plaintiff be frozen.”
In its 63 paragraph Statement of Claim in suit No FHC/L/CS/425/2020 filed by renowned Lagos lawyer, Mr. James Ononiwu of Whitedove Solicitors, COSON pleads that It is a fact that the Copyright Act in Section 39 (2) gives the Defendant the power to approve collecting societies but nowhere under the law is the NCC given the power to suspend, revoke or in any way restrict the approval given to a collecting society or embark on an audit of a collecting society or direct the freeze/restriction of the bank accounts of a collecting society without an order of court.
COSON which is Africa’s fastest growing CMO with thousands of members across Nigeria, also pleads that while the Copyright Collective Management Organization Regulations (2007), made by the NCC, states that it has been made in exercise of the powers conferred on the NCC by section 39 (7) of the Copyright Act, the regulations are over reaching of the law because nowhere in Section 39 of the Copyright Act or any other law is the commission given the power to suspend, revoke or in any way restrict the approval given to a collecting society or embark on an audit of a collecting society or direct the freeze/restriction of the bank accounts of a collecting society without an order of court.
COSON said that the NCC has become a MONSTER, deploying the wide powers it has unlawfully assumed to decimate the stakeholders it was set up to protect and that in its actions, the commission has been the law maker, the accuser, the judge and the jury in its own case without COSON being offered any opportunity for fair hearing.
COSON has therefore asked the Federal high Court to declare that the provisions in the Copyright (Collective Management Organizations) Regulations 2007, made by the NCC, by which the NCC has assumed the power to unilaterally suspend or revoke the licence of an approved Collecting Society or to require an approved collecting society to apply to the NCC to renew its licence are undemocratic, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.
Similarly, COSON which has reciprocal representation agreements with about 150 collective management organizations in every continent around the world has asked the Federal High Court to declare that the provision in the Copyright (Collective Management Organizations) Regulations 2007 by which the NCC has assumed the power to order the audit of a Copyright Collective Management Organization without the authorization of the society’s Annual General Meeting and without a court order is undemocratic, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void. Also requested is a declaration that the directive by the NCC without an order of court that the bank accounts of COSON be frozen, is ultra vires the powers of the NCC, illegal, unlawful, null and void.
Furthermore, COSON is seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the commission, its officers, agents, servants or privies from relying on the provisions of the Copyright Collective Management Organizations Regulations 2007 to take any steps purporting to revoke the operating licence/ approval of COSON or in any way or manner disturbing/continuing to disturb or preventing/continuing to prevent COSON from lawfully enforcing the constitutional rights of its members, affiliates, assignees and reciprocal representation partners or interfering/continuing to interfere with the internal management, operations, funds, audits or bank accounts of the Plaintiff or disturbing/continuing to disturb or preventing/continuing to prevent COSON, its members, affiliates, assignees and reciprocal representation partners from earning income and sustaining themselves with their Intellectual Property, without an order of court.
It will be recalled that at a massively attended world press conference held at COSON House, Ikeja days before the suit was filed, COSON called for the immediate resignation of Mr. John Asein, the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission who is alleged to be immersed in rabid corruption. At the Press Conference addressed by the CMOs chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, he said, “the Nigerian Copyright Commission has brought shame to the Nigerian nation. We therefore on this 10th day of March 2020 call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to call the Nigerian Copyright Commission to order. We demand of the Buhari Administration to order the Nigerian Copyright Commission to publish a bold and unreserved apology to the thousands of members of COSON, the entire Nigerian creative community and the international copyright family for the terrible misuse and abuse of power and to make appropriate restitution to COSON”
TEXT READ BY CHIEF TONY OKOROJI, CHAIRMAN, COPYRIGHT SOCIETY OF NIGERIA (COSON), ON BEHALF OF THE SOCIETY AT A WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE HELD ON TUESDAY MARCH 10, 2020 AT COSON HOUSE, IKEJA LAGOS.
THE FACTS …. ONLY THE FACTS!
No fiction, no lies, no propaganda and no fake news.
Gentlemen of the Press.
It is with immense gratitude that on behalf of the Board, Management, Staff and the thousands of members of COSON across the country, I welcome you to COSON House today.
Some of you were present when on May 20, 2017, the stars of Nigeria gathered on Oluwaleimu Street, Ikeja as we commissioned COSON House with pomp and pageantry. We were happy and celebrated because very few gave us any chance of success. We had been told, over and over again, that collective management of copyright would never work in Nigeria and that the Nigerian creative industry lacked the discipline to build a stable institution. With very focused leadership, COSON broke the jinx.
Clearly, COSON had begun to make collective management of copyright work. Fired up by our slogan, “Let the music pay!” we added another slogan, “COSON is working!”
every rule in the book and complied with every law of our nation. We have never missed one Annual General Meeting and at our meetings, we have invited the media to report our discussions as we have never had anything to hide. Indeed, apart from the statutorily prescribed Annual General Meeting, we held an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting every December at which our members had an open opportunity to discuss every issue.
Without the prompting of anyone, we have had our accounts audited every single year by auditors appointed by our Annual General Meetings. We have had the audited accounts reviewed and approved by our AGM as required under the law and filed each annual returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission and sent an incomparably huge activity report every year to the NCC. Without any question, COSON has been the most transparent and accountable organization in the history of the Nigerian creative industry. Since our approval, COSON has distributed hundreds of millions of Naira as royalties to our members and affiliates.
When the COSON House was commissioned nearly three years ago, a lot of people were surprised that there was not one Naira of government money in the acquisition and construction of this magnificent building, no donor dollar or pound came from anywhere and that we did it with no bank loan and no debt of any type.
For eight years, not one of the highly trained staff of COSON received his or her salary one day late. It is also a fact that no COSON member has ever paid any registration fee, monthly dues or subscription of any type yet every COSON member is entitled to some income from us every year.
We are very proud of the success of COSON which is a product of the leadership’s laser focused dedication to our cause and the deft management of our resources.
Unfortunately, the COSON success also became our albatross. As it became clear that we have broken the jinx and built an organization which across the continent was being celebrated, several midnight plots and gang-ups began to emerge. COSON had become too successful with the magnificent COSON House and millions of naira in the bank. As a result, some people could no longer sleep. Suddenly, a plot was hatched by a handful of people in our industry to hijack for themselves COSON which we have built as a pan-Nigerian organization to provide succor to all owners of musical works and sound recordings in every nook and cranny of the Nigerian nation. Their dream became how to turn COSON into their private ATM and a private piggy bank for them and their friends.
Some people here may not have forgotten the COSON drama of December 2017. On a sunny December afternoon in 2017, in the manner of a military coup in Africa’s banana republics, some of our colleagues without any respect for due process, issued a press statement announcing that they had taken over control of COSON.
The reaction was swift even from some of you at this press conference. Many predicted that the end of COSON was nigh. When the members of COSON in a first- class display of peoples’ power, chased out those who sought to take over COSON against the will of a large majority of COSON members, the hijackers switched to another mode of war. They began an unprecedented propaganda campaign with serial indoctrination, disinformation, misinformation, misrepresentation, deception and unbelievable defamation. Stories began to circulate as to how those who practically shed their blood, worked day and night to build this great Nigerian institution being admired at home and abroad, are not better than armed robbers.
The tactics was brilliant especially in a nation in which many people have lost faith in the integrity of their leaders.
It was to our amazement that we discovered that some senior officers in the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) a federal government agency, were neck deep in the conspiracy to hijack COSON and if the conspiracy fails, to destroy it.
It is common knowledge that the NCC has since harassed, intimidated, maltreated and bullied COSON and several of our officers and made unending attempts to foist their preferred individual on COSON as Chairman of the Board despite the fact that their individual is not acceptable to a very large majority of the members of COSON and despite the fact that the General Assembly of COSON, the highest decision making body of our society, on December 19, 2017 roundly rejected their imposed Chairman and roundly annulled the attempt by the NCC to foist their man on COSON.
Not being successful in planting their preferred person as Chairman of the Board of COSON which is a private company with its internal affairs governed by its Memorandum and Articles of Association and the Companies & Allied Matters Act, NCC wrote a letter to COSON dated 30th April 2018 and without a court order, purportedly suspended the approval of COSON to collect and distribute royalties on behalf of its members thereby endangering the copyright assignments received by COSON and the huge investments made by our organization and thereby threatening the constitutional rights of COSON and its members and licensees to earn income from their intellectual property.
As if that was not enough, the NCC went ahead to send another letter to COSON dated May 3, 2018 but received by us a day before the letter was supposed to have been written, specifically on May 2, 2018, with the letter purportedly directing the freezing of the bank accounts of COSON without an order of court and in the said letter, the commission directed COSON which it had already directed not to earn any income, to continue to pay the personal emoluments of its staff, the source of the funds to pay such emoluments not stated by the commission.
Following an action taken in response by the members of COSON led by music icon, Prof Sir Victor Uwaifo, the Federal High Court, on July 10, 2018 granted an Order of Interlocutory Injunction restraining Efe Omorogbe, the individual who the NCC has tried to foist on COSON, from parading himself as the Chairman of COSON pending the determination of the substantive suit. The Order continues to subsist.
In spite of the order of the Federal High Court, just mentioned, the NCC has continued to hound, harass, intimidate, strangulate and bully COSON and COSON officers and has widely spread information to the public that no one should deal with COSON as its licence is suspended.
While the orders of the Federal High Court have been in force, the Nigerian Copyright Commission went ahead to file criminal charges against COSON, my humble self, the COSON General Manager and two other officers of COSON for purportedly operating without a licence.
We have been hounded like common criminals in every way, at some point, we were asked to be reporting to the EFCC and the Police CID. At some other point, officers of the dreaded SARS, armed to the teeth, stormed COSON House. Upon our serious complaint, they had to be called off by higher authorities.
What we have been subjected to is an NCC which has been the law maker, the accuser, the judge and the jury in its own case without COSON being offered any opportunity for fair hearing. Indeed, the NCC has become a monster.
What exactly is our crime? Our crime simply is that we built a Nigerian institution that works and is admired.
In this game, the NCC has assumed the position of both the top striker and the referee, blowing the whistle as it pleases and interpreting the rules with no shame of its clear partisanship. In the game, the rules have changed constantly, and the goal post shifted as it pleases the NCC.
From directing that their man be installed as Chairman of COSON, which a court of law blocked to the criminal charges that the NCC filed against us which another court of law blocked, to the freezing of the COSON bank accounts in which COSON has won every case so far decided and which is being challenged in different courts to the coordinated massive defamation campaign which is also being challenged in different courts, the NCC and their chorus singers started chanting a new song called “Forensic Audit”
About twelve days ago, specifically on February 27, 2020, we received at COSON House two letters from the NCC, one titled DIAGNOSTIC STUDY OF COLLECTIVE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IN NIGERIA dated 3rd December 2019 and the other titled REQUEST FOR AUDIT dated 4th December 2019. In other words, one of the letters took 86 days to arrive from the NCC and the other, 87 days!
There is a reason for the serious back dating of the two letters. They were the first and only communication ever from NCC to COSON of the widely publicized NCC/AFD/PUNUKA/KPMG audit. NCC clearly wanted to create the false impression that COSON had been carried along all the time in the controversial deal made by the DG of the NCC in the reported NCC/AFD/PUNUKA/KPMG contract which needs to be fully investigated.
We have raised several questions on the contract and written several letters to the NCC none of which has been replied. The questions we have raised include the following:
- Who referred AFD to the NCC?
- What is the role of Isioma Idigbe and Punuka Attorneys in the arrangement?
- What is the experience of AFD or Punuka Attorneys in the collective management of copyright?
- Is Isioma Idigbe or Punuka being paid any fees and if yes, how much and by whom?
- Are all the CMOs in Nigeria being audited?
- How come the adversaries of the COSON leadership knew about the NCC press statement on the audit and its content and discussed them on social media before the statement was issued?
- With the many accusations and counter accusations of fraud and mismanagement of funds at the NCC, will the NCC also be audited?
- What are the names of the other organizations that competed with Punuka Attorneys for the deal?
- What role did the NCC Governing Board or the supervising Minister play in the negotiation or approval of this contract?
- Was the DG unaware that Punuka Attorneys are lawyers against COSON in Suit No. FHC/CS/966/18 (COSON vs Genesis Deluxe Cinemas & Film House), a critical case on copyright infringement in Nigeria?
- Was the DG unaware that Isioma Idigbe is Secretary of Music Publishers Association of Nigeria (MPAN), the organization that appears to have been set up primarily as a platform for those who have issues to grind with COSON and which organization has provided a cover for such persons to harass and mount unending attacks on COSON and damage the hard earned reputation of COSON?
- Was the DG unaware that three members of MPAN of which Isioma Idigbe is Secretary are presently in court against COSON in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1418/19 (Green Light Music Publishing Co & 2 Ors vs. COSON)?
- Has the DG forgotten that in June 2019, Isioma Idigbe was part of a three-man MPAN team that came to his NCC office in Abuja to canvass for a “forensic” audit of COSON which in the light of recent developments, appears to have been a prelude for Isioma Idigbe and Punuka Attorneys to obtain a “sweetheart” contract?
- When will the NCC come to the conclusion that some of its officers who have played key roles in the instability in the copyright collective management system in the country and in whom COSON has zero confidence, should be asked to step aside as their roles and conflict of interest may no longer be tenable?
NCC AND CMO AUDIT
The procedures for auditing an incorporated company in Nigeria are laid out in Sections 357 – 369 of the Companies & Allied Matters Act (CAMA). It is not a copyright issue and not provided for anywhere in the Copyright Act.
The HISTORY OF AUDITS AT COSON shows that COSON has fully complied with the provisions of the law every year and that COSON is a great example of a well-run organization in Nigeria.
Let us examine that history.
- On Tuesday, December 13, 2011. the General Assembly of COSON reviewed and approved the 2010 Audited Accounts of the society at the COSON 2011 Annual General Meeting held at the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu Lagos.
- On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, the General Assembly of COSON reviewed and approved the 2011 Audited Accounts of COSON at the 2012 Annual General Meeting of COSON held at Eko FM Multi-Purpose Hall, Ikeja, Lagos.
- On Monday. May 20, 2013, the COSON General Assembly reviewed and approved the 2012 Audited Accounts of COSON at the 2013 Annual General Meeting of COSON held at the National Arts Theatre Iganmu, Lagos
- On Tuesday. May 20, 2014, the General Assembly of COSON reviewed and approved the 2013 COSON Audited Accounts at the 2014 Annual General Meeting of COSON held at EKO FM Multi-Purpose Hall, Ikeja Lagos.
- On Wednesday. May 20, 2015, the General Assembly of COSON reviewed and approved the 2014 Audited Accounts of COSON at the 2015 Annual General Meeting of COSON held at Airport Hotel Ikeja Lagos.
- On Tuesday. May 17, 2016, the General Assembly of COSON reviewed and approved the 2015 Audited Accounts of COSON at the 2016 Annual General Meeting of COSON held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja Lagos.
- On Thursday. May 18, 2017, the General Assembly of COSON reviewed and approved the 2016 Audited Accounts of COSON at the 2017 Annual General Meeting of COSON held at Solab Hotel & Suites, Ikeja Lagos.
- On Tuesday. May 10, 2018, the General Assembly of our client reviewed and approved the 2017 Audited Accounts of COSON at the 2018 Annual General Meeting of COSON held at Lagos Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja.
- On Monday. May 20, 2019, the General Assembly of COSON reviewed and approved the 2018 Audited Accounts of COSON at the 2019 Annual General Meeting of COSON held at Lagos Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja.
Each of the audited accounts and annual returns has been filed with the CAC as required by law and has also been sent to the NCC as a matter of information. Beyond the audited accounts, huge activity reports of COSON have been sent to the NCC every year.
We dare anyone to produce evidence of any organization in the history of the Nigerian creative industry which has a better audit or reporting record than COSON. The interesting thing is that the NCC attended nearly all the COSON AGMs at which the audited accounts were reviewed and approved. The NCC never had any complaint about them until some of its staff were recruited to join in crippling COSON and a new song called “forensic audit” was composed and published.
The NCC has said that it derives its authority to order the audit of COSON from Article 9 (2) of the Copyright (Collective Management Organizations) Regulations 2007 made by the NCC itself which provides as follows:
The Commission may, if it considers it necessary, at any time, appoint an auditor to audit the accounts of a Collective Management Organization and the cost of such auditing shall be borne by the organization.
At best, the NCC CMO regulations is a subsidiary legislation which cannot by any stretch of the imagination supersede the provisions of CAMA, an Act of Nigeria’s National Assembly which in Section 357 (1) gives the power to appoint an auditor, to the company’s Annual General Meeting. The AGM of a company is made up of the owners of the company who are the owners of the funds to be audited. It is the strongly held position of COSON that the provision in Article 9 (2) of the CMO regulations is absurd and contrary to the provisions of CAMA and therefore unlawful.
Even if the provisions of Article 9 (2) of the Copyright (Collective Management Organizations) Regulations 2007 were to be lawful which we do not concede, the purported appointment of an auditor by the NCC without any consultation or agreement with COSON when the unknown cost of the auditing SHALL be borne by COSON or paid for by AFD as advertised in the media, is clearly against the NCC made regulations itself and against common sense.
DIAGNOSTIC STUDY OF COLLECTIVE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IN NIGERIA
We have also not been shown where the NCC obtained the power to unilaterally appoint anyone to perform a DIAGNOSTIC STUDY OF COLLECTIVE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IN NIGERIA as it concerns COSON. We have repeatedly asked how Punuka Attorneys who are presently in court representing a party against us and whose key official, Isioma Idigbe, Secretary of MPAN, a well-known adversary of COSON with its members also in court against us can in good conscience expect to be given free access to the innermost information and the secrets of the operations of COSON.
We wish to state clearly that COSON has absolutely nothing to hide and is not against any audit as far as the exercise is lawful, transparent and not a witch hunt.
Nigeria remains a nation of laws. Our lawyers have advised us not to participate in any way in the present exercise badly constructed by the NCC which is blatantly unlawful and which completely lacks transparency and is clearly a witch hunt. It is obvious that after the NCC had illegitimately inflicted so much injury on COSON and its members, the commission is now desperately looking for justification for the injury which has already been inflicted. COSON will not be part of the charade.
We have also repeatedly stated that COSON is a company incorporated under the Companies & Allied Matters Act (CAMA) with a Memorandum & Articles of Association and an existing governance structure recognized by law and by our membership. COSON was first registered as a company before it received approval to act as a collecting society. COSON’s approval as a CMO did not suddenly terminate its duty to comply with the provisions of CAMA and to obey its Memorandum & Articles which were presented to the NCC before approval. A CMO is a private institution and not a department of the NCC.
WHERE THE NCC GOT IT VERY WRONG.
It is a fact that the Copyright Act in Section 39 (2) gave the Nigerian Copyright Commission the power to approve collecting societies and in Section 39 (7) gave the Commission the power to make regulations specifying the conditions necessary to give effect to the approval of collecting societies.
Mysteriously, some persons in the NCC have assumed and led the commission to believe that the limited powers given to the NCC in Section 39 (7) of the Copyright Act is a carte blanch authority to meddle in the internal management of CMOs. The commission has gone ahead to make diverse “regulations” which Section 39 (7) of the Copyright Act never gave it the power to make.
This is how the NCC unlawfully gave to itself the power to unilaterally intervene in the choice of the Chairman of a CMO, the power to on its own suspend, revoke or restrict the approval given to a collecting society or embark on an audit of a collecting society or order the freezing of the bank accounts of a CMO without ever going to court and seeking the order of court.
We hereby state emphatically that until the leadership of the NCC reads Section 39 (7) of the Copyright Act properly, understands that the NCC’s power to make regulations is limited to the conditions necessary to give effect to the purposes of Section 39 of the Act and that the NCC is not the omnibus regulator some of its officers have assumed, the commission will continue to face crisis.
It is a fact that nowhere in Section 39 of the Copyright Act or any other Section of the Act or any other law is the NCC given the unilateral power to suspend, revoke or in any way restrict the approval given to a collecting society or embark on the audit of a collecting society or order the freezing of the bank accounts of a CMO without an order of court.
While the NCC has been given the power to bring a CMO to life, it has not been given the power to kill a CMO.
Despite all the hounding and intimidation, you are witness to the fact that COSON House continues to stand tall and remains sparkling clean. 7 days ago, the Board of COSON met at COSON House. Not one member of the Board was absent and not one member left the meeting before its adjournment about 7 hours after the meeting began. It was the Board that directed that this press conference be held. The Board also approved the acquisition of new state of the art software that will make royalty distribution in COSON unquestionable and fully transparent.
Gentlemen of the Press, the COSON Management stands strong. Our membership on Dec 7, 2017 when the coup took place was 3631. The membership as of today is 4700, an increase of 29.44%. We wish to inform all those who are deploying works in the COSON repertoire that the purported suspension of the COSON operating licence is a ruse not founded on Nigerian law or the Nigerian constitution. We therefore request all those deploying works in the COSON repertoire to ensure that they obtain a COSON licence or face litigation.
Both the NCC and those who have conspired with them to hound us and drive us out of existence have not read the game well. They have underestimated the vision, mission, passion, dedication and determination of the members and leaders of COSON. We are 100% committed to ensuring that COSON will not be one of the failed organizations in the creative industry.
Gentlemen of the Press. We have become freedom fighters for the Nigerian creative industry. We are fighters against the use of state power to muscle and overwhelm innocent citizens. We will not slumber, and we will not tire. We refuse to be made slaves in our nation. We will fight the tyranny that has been unleashed on us until we gain total victory for the artistes of Nigeria.
The ill-advised actions of the NCC against COSON have had severe consequences such as the following:
- Presently, there are about 17 ongoing cases in different courts arising from the attempt to hijack the leadership of COSON in 2017.
- We have been hounded by the EFCC, the Police, SARS and have faced a criminal case filed by the NCC
- Several COSON accounts have been frozen in different banks with several cases in court.
- With the freezing of the COSON Bank accounts, for the first time in 8 years, the thousands of members of COSON did not receive any royalties last December, something they have begun to take for granted.
- The COSON staff and consultants across the country have been placed in an untenable position.
- The foreign reciprocal representation partners are also being badly short changed.
- Last October, I met in London with the executives of the topmost recording companies in the world. These companies were emphatic that they want to invest millions of dollars in the Nigerian music industry and on Nigerian musicians but cannot go ahead because with what the NCC is doing to COSON, they cannot be assured of adequate returns on their investment.
- COSON which used to be a reference point with respect to collective administration of copyright in Africa and a great ambassador of the Nigerian copyright system has been made to go through completely unnecessary trauma by the NCC set up to protect and promote the creative industry.
Gentlemen of the Press, the Nigerian Copyright Commission has brought shame to the Nigerian nation. We therefore on this 10th day of March, 2020 call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to call the Nigerian Copyright Commission to order. We demand of the Buhari Administration to order the Nigerian Copyright Commission to publish a bold and unreserved apology to the thousands of members of COSON, the entire Nigerian creative community and the international copyright community for terrible misuse and abuse of power and to make appropriate restitution to COSON.
WHY HAS THE NCC SUNK SO LOW?
After the founding fathers of the NCC established this very important organization, it has been inflicted with very bad and week leadership. Unfortunately, rather than fight piracy of Nigerian creative works and other types of copyright infringement for which the organization was set up, it is our considered opinion that the NCC has become a den of thieves and the crucible of scams. The interest of the NCC leadership appears to grab all “grabables” from everywhere which is why they descended ferociously on COSON.
When in January 2019, it was announced that John Ohireime Asein had been appointed Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, many hoped that the fortunes of the NCC would change and the instability in the organization will come to an end. Unfortunately, that hope has been dashed.
Recently, a civil society and anti-corruption group, Peace & Development for Africa Initiative gave the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Mr. John Ohireime Asien, an ultimatum to resign his position or face prosecution for corruption.
Unfortunately, much of the alleged corruption, conflict of interest, abuse of power, lack of transparency and unreliability have become well known to much of his staff and many stakeholders in the copyright community. This has made it impossible for Mr. Asein to function effectively as the Chief Executive Officer of such an important government agency. He has become a very bad example to his staff and has lost their respect. This situation is impacting negatively on the Nigerian creative industry and the thousands of members of COSON. As a result, the stability and progress expected at the commission following Mr. Asein’s appointment has become a mirage.
There is ample evidence that John Ohireime Asein with IPPIS No 101108 may have continued to collect salaries from the Nigerian Copyright Commission several months into 2016 after retiring as staff of the commission on December 31, 2015. Indeed, there is evidence which we have that for the months of January, February, March and April 2016, Mr. Asein may have unlawfully earned income of N502,271.00 in each of the months from the Federal Government. This is behaviour that is clearly fraudulent and criminal and deserves to be fully investigated and if he is found liable, prosecuted.
There is also ample evidence that Mr. Asein who from January 10, 2017 to January 8, 2019 held the position of Executive Director of Reprographic Rights Organization of Nigeria (REPRONIG), a collective management organization regulated by the NCC which is not known to have ever distributed even one kobo to any of its members or filed a proper audited account, has continued to act on behalf of REPRONIG, write letters on behalf of REPRONIG while DG of NCC, manage the funds provided by international donor agencies such as WIPO, IFFRO, NORCODE, KOPINOR, etc., to REPRONIG and act as sole signatory to the REPRONIG UBA account No 2004467988 and make payments on behalf of the organization, long after assuming the position of Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission.
In fact, more than one year after he assumed office as DG of the NCC, Mr. Asein is still listed on www.repronig.ng, the website of REPRONIG, as Executive Director of REPRONIG. In effect, Mr. Asein is at the same time both the Head of REPRONIG, an organization regulated by the NCC and Head of the regulatory agency, the NCC! This is a bewildering example of conflict of interest with extensive consequences. There is no question that this deserves to be investigated and the investigation must cover how the millions of Naira in grants to REPRONIG by different donor agencies have been disbursed by John Ohireime Asein, sole signatory to the REPRONIG account.
At the same time that John Ohireime Asein is a Public Servant, he is also a Director of a private company known as Books & Gavel Ltd.
Article 030424 of the Public Service Rules provides as follows:
Public Officers are not prohibited from holding shares in both public and private companies operating in Nigeria or abroad except that they must not be Directors in private companies and may only be Directors in public companies if nominated by Government
On January 13, 2020, a judge of the High Court of Lagos State, Hon Justice A.M. Lawal, in open court, reprimanded Mr. Obi Ezeilo, a senior official of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for the naming of 4 lawyers in the employ of the Nigerian Copyright Commission: ABIOLA ADEKUNLE, LYNDA ALPHAEAUS, CHIOMA IHEDIOHA and CHIAZOR NDIGWE, as part of the legal team to defend Mr. Ezeilo’s in the private slander action brought against him by me. .
This was after Mr. Asein had been notified in writing of the consequences of what Mr. Ezeilo was doing which is clearly unlawful. A proper investigation of the records at the NCC will show that apart from providing to Mr. Ezeilo lawyers paid by the Federal Government for his private case, in this blatant abuse of power, Mr. Asein on December 18 2019 approved government funds for Mr Ezeilo to travel from Abuja to Lagos to prosecute his private case. This untenable abuse of power is well known to the staff of the commission and the gang up needs to be investigated and punished.
As has already been mentioned, there remains significant lack of transparency in the controversial deal between the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Agency Francaise De Development (AFD), Isioma Idigbe’s Punuka Attorneys and KPMG brokered by Mr. John Asein. Unfortunately, nobody at the NCC except Mr. Asein appears to have any full detail of the deal or the money involved. This ought not be so as the NCC is a full-fledged commission of the Federal Government with a Board and not the personal property of Mr. John Asein.
The answer to the question, how much is involved in the deal and who received what from whom in this contentious deal, is still blowing in the wind.
It is the strongly held opinion of COSON that the NCC/AFD/Punuka/KPMG deal needs to be investigated and the details uncovered.
We have wondered why Mr. Asein practically keeps no promise that he makes and why he is so unreliable. Month after month after month, Mr. Asein has failed to keep to any of the promises he has made to remove the wicked and unexplainable shackles placed by the NCC to destroy COSON, Nigeria’s most internationally respected institution in the copyright sector. In the past one year, he has found one excuse after another not to take any real action but to continue to punish the thousands of innocent members of COSON who have done nothing to him and who are denied their well-deserved income as a result of the shenanigan going on within the leadership of the NCC.
We have unfortunately been made to arrive at the conclusion that Mr. Asein has no interest in the success of COSON or the copyright sector or the welfare of the thousands who depend on an effective copyright system for their sustenance.
Mr. Asein who has been Executive Director of REPRONIG, a collective management organization that has never paid one naira in royalties to any of its members, has done everything to obstruct the growth of COSON, a very respected CMO that has distributed hundreds of millions of Naira to its members. His game plan appears to be to use delay and delay to strangle COSON and let COSON internally bleed to death.
It is our strongly held opinion that Mr. John Ohireime Asein is tainted and under his leadership, the Nigerian Copyright Commission no longer serves the national interest but the private interest of Mr. Asein and his cronies.
As an organization whose members are heavily impacted by the serious leadership problems at the Nigerian Copyright Commission, COSON on this 10th day of March 2020 demands that Mr. John Asein should immediately resign his position as Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission as it is impossible for him to offer any meaningful leadership to the commission going forward.
If Mr. John Asein does not resign, COSON calls on the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Folashade Yemi Esan, .the Chairman, ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami; Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, to ensure that Mr. Asein is suspended from office, properly investigated and prosecuted so that President Buhari’s anti-corruption stand is not seen by the world as a joke.
If these Nigerians fail to take the action which is their duty to take, we have lawyers who are ready to obtain the necessary fiat to forcefully prosecute Mr. Asein.
Gentlemen of the Press, on these issues, there will be no retreat and no surrender. Let me state unequivocally that we will deploy all the resources available to us under the law until the whole world hears us and the issues raised here are addressed.
We owe it to our children.
Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) Nigeria’s biggest Copyright Collective Management Organization has called for the immediate resignation of Mr. John Ohireme Asein as Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC)
At a very well attended World Press Conference held this Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at COSON House, Ikeja, COSON said that If Mr. John Asein does not resign, COSON is calling on the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Folashade Yemi Esan, .the Chairman, ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the Attorney-General of the Federation, & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami; Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, to ensure that Mr. Asein is suspended from office, properly investigated and prosecuted so that President Buhari’s anti-corruption stand is not seen by the world as a joke.
According to Chief Tony Okoroji who spoke on behalf of COSON, “if these Nigerians fail to take the action which is their duty to take, we have lawyers who are ready to obtain the necessary fiat to forcefully prosecute Mr. Asein”.
According to Okoroji, after the founding fathers of the NCC established this very important organization, it has been inflicted with very bad and weak leadership. Unfortunately, rather than fight piracy of Nigerian creative works and other types of copyright infringement for which the organization was set up, it is the strongly held opinion of COSON that the NCC has become a den of thieves and the crucible of scams. The interest of the NCC leadership appears to be to grab all “grabables” from everywhere which is why they descended ferociously on COSON”
According to Chief Okoroji, when in January 2019, it was announced that John Ohireime Asein had been appointed Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, many hoped that the fortunes of the NCC would change and the instability in the organization will come to an end. Unfortunately, that hope has been dashed.
At the COSON conference, it was alleged that there is ample evidence that John Ohireime Asein with IPPIS No 101108 may have continued to collect salaries from the Nigerian Copyright Commission several months into 2016 after retiring as staff of the commission on December 31, 2015. It was alleged that there is evidence that for the months of January, February, March and April 2016, Mr. Asein unlawfully earned income of N502,271.00 in each of the months from the Federal Government. Stating that the behaviour is clearly fraudulent and criminal Chief Okoroji said that Mr. Asein deserves to be fully investigated and if he is found liable, prosecuted.
It was also alleged that there is ample evidence that Mr. Asein who from January 10, 2017 to January 8, 2019 held the position of Executive Director of Reprographic Rights Organization of Nigeria (REPRONIG), a collective management organization regulated by the NCC which it was said not be known to have ever distributed even one kobo to any of its members or filed a proper audited account, has continued to act on behalf of REPRONIG, write letters on behalf of REPRONIG while DG of NCC, manage the funds provided by international donor agencies such as WIPO, IFFRO, NORCODE, KOPINOR, etc., to REPRONIG and act as sole signatory to the REPRONIG UBA account No 2004467988 and make payments on behalf of the organization, long after assuming the position of Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission.
It was alleged that more than one year after he assumed office as DG of the NCC, Mr. Asein is still listed on www.repronig.ng, the website of REPRONIG, as Executive Director of REPRONIG. Said Chief Okoroji, “in effect, Mr. Asein is at the same time both the Head of REPRONIG, an organization regulated by the NCC and Head of the regulatory agency, the NCC! This is a bewildering example of conflict of interest with extensive consequences. There is no question that this deserves to be investigated and the investigation must cover how the millions of Naira in grants to REPRONIG by different donor agencies have been disbursed by John Ohireime Asein, sole signatory to the REPRONIG account”.
It was further alleged that at the same time that John Ohireime Asein is a Public Servant, he is also a Director of a private company known as Books & Gavel Ltd which is prohibited under the Public Service Rules.
The conference was informed that there remains significant lack of transparency in the controversial deal between the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Agency Francaise De Development (AFD), Isioma Idigbe’s Punuka Attorneys and KPMG brokered by Mr. John Asein. Said Okoroji, “Unfortunately, nobody at the NCC except Mr. Asein appears to have any full detail of the deal or the money involved. This ought not be so as the NCC is a full-fledged commission of the Federal Government with a Board and not the personal property of Mr. John Asein. The answer to the question, how much is involved in the deal and who received what from whom in this contentious deal, is still blowing in the wind. It is the strongly held opinion of COSON that the NCC/AFD/Punuka/KPMG deal needs to be investigated and the details uncovered”
Said Chief Okoroji, “on these issues, there will be no retreat and no surrender. Let me state unequivocally that we will deploy all the lawful resources available to us until the whole world hears us and the issues raised here are addressed.
“We owe it to our children” said the former President of PMAN.