FULL TEXT OF THE WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE HELD ON MARCH 10, 2020 AT COSON HOUSE, IKEJA

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:

  1. Who referred AFD to the NCC?
  2. What is the role of Isioma Idigbe and Punuka Attorneys in the arrangement?
  3. What is the experience of AFD or Punuka Attorneys in the collective management of copyright?
  4. Is Isioma Idigbe or Punuka being paid any fees and if yes, how much and by whom?
  5. Are all the CMOs in Nigeria being audited?
  6. 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?
  7. With the many accusations and counter accusations of fraud and mismanagement of funds at the NCC, will the NCC also be audited?
  8. What are the names of the other organizations that competed with Punuka Attorneys for the deal?
  9. What role did the NCC Governing Board or the supervising Minister play in the negotiation or approval of this contract?
  10. 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?
  11. 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?
  12. 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)?
  13. 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?
  14. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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:

 

  1. Presently, there are about 17 ongoing cases in different courts arising from the attempt to hijack the leadership of COSON in 2017.
  2. We have been hounded by the EFCC, the Police, SARS and have faced a criminal case filed by the NCC
  3. Several COSON accounts have been frozen in different banks with several cases in court.
  4. 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.
  5. The COSON staff and consultants across the country have been placed in an untenable position.
  6. The foreign reciprocal representation partners are also being badly short changed.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Thank you.

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