COSON STAKEHOLDERS IN OWERRI WARN NIGERIAN BANKS AGAINST WITHHOLDING ROYALTIES BELONGING TO MUSIC INDUSTRY PRACTITIONERS

Hundreds of members of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) from different parts of the South East on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, met at a big Stakeholders Forum at the Banquet Hall of Rockview Hotel in Owerri, the capital city of Imo State.

At the massively attended forum, the COSON Stakeholders sent a warning to any Nigerian bank which may have decided to collude with some bad elements within the nation’s music industry and who without any court order or any genuine

process of law, has decided to withhold copyright royalties belonging to innocent practitioners in the music industry.

The COSON Stakeholders warned such banks that there will be substantial price to pay for such perfidy as the music industry in Nigeria is capable and willing to engage in massive and sustained campaign against such a bank.

It will be recalled that on October 8, 2019, COSON, one of Africa’s foremost copyright collective management organizations, filed an action at the Federal High Court Lagos against Access Bank PLC claiming the sum of two billion naira for the unlawful freezing of the accounts of the society.

In the suit No. FHC/L/CS/1777/2019, COSON is asking for a declaration that the freezing of its accounts with Access Bank without any court order whatsoever is illegal, unlawful, null and void. The organization which pays royalties to musicians across the country has also asked the Federal High Court for an order directing Access Bank to immediately unfreeze the Plaintiff’s accounts with the bank, frozen without any court order whatsoever and release all restrictions placed on the Plaintiff from running its accounts.

In its statement of claim, COSON stated that it has never borrowed money from Access Bank neither has it ever overdrawn from its account with the Bank and that as a result of the continued freezing of its accounts by Access Bank without any court order whatsoever, royalties due to the members and affiliates of COSON have been significantly unpaid causing tremendous consternation and instability within the Plaintiff.

The copyright organization said that it verily believes that if the Court does not intervene to put a stop to the vicious behavior of the bank to COSON, the bank will be emboldened to continue to be lawless and to seize the funds belonging to

other of its customers without any court order whatsoever.

In the Statement of Claim, COSON also says that the behavior of Access Bank strongly demonstrates that the bank has special interest in withholding the funds of the Plaintiff and that the bank is acting a script to grind the Plaintiff to a halt as

the bank has taken extraordinary steps to continue to withhold the funds of the Plaintiff, a customer of the bank which has trusted its funds to the bank and which customer has done nothing wrong to the bank.

The COSON Stakeholders in Owerri also warned that there is no law in Nigeria that grants anyone under any circumstance the right to the free use or deployment of the intellectual property belonging to free citizens in contravention of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of such citizens to earn

income from the use or deployment of their property and requested that anyone who wishes to publicly or commercially deploy any of the large body of musical works or sound recordings in the repertoire of COSON must seek a COSON licence before any such use or deployment or face severe legal consequences.

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