A Federal High Court Judge sitting in Lagos, Mrs. Olateregun-Ishola has adjourned the criminal trials of Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN), its CEO, Mr. Mayo Ayilaran and six other officers of the society accused of operating an illegal copyright collecting society, to March 28 and 29, 2017. The trials in three separate cases slated for Monday, January 30, 2017 were rescheduled following the failure of the prison authorities to bring to court, one of the accused MCSN staff, Miss Gladys Njoku who has been remanded in prison custody for several months on the orders of the court. Miss Njoku has remained in prison as a result of her inability to perfect her bail conditions.
Apart from Miss Njoku, in the dock were all the other accused persons including MCSN’s CEO, Mr. Mayo Ayilaran who was able to meet his bail conditions after more than a week of his remand in prison custody and so secured his release. So, did his deputy, Mr. Louis Bassey Udoh and two other officers of the organization, Miss Omolari Banjo and Mr. Yusuf Benson. Unfortunately, no conclusive attempt was made to secure the release of three other officers of MCSN, Mr Halim Mohammed, Ms Gladys Njoku and Mr. Olukayode Ajayi who have remained in prison custody since October 26, 2016 when they were granted bail by the court.
When the case was called on Monday, January 30, Defence counsel Mr. Wale Adesokan SAN sought to move an application for an order directing the Nigerian Copyright Commission to release the equipment, files, documents and all materials seized from the MCSN office during an NCC raid in 2012, in accordance with the earlier judgment of Justice Mohammed Yunusa delivered on March 18, 2013. According to Mr. Adesokan, the materials were required by the defendants for their defence. Mr. Obi Ezeilo leading the prosecution team which included Mrs. Linda Durugo, Mrs Linda Alpheus and Mrs. Chioma Ihedioha objected saying that the Judgement of Justice Mohammed Yunusa had been completely set aside by the Court of Appeal in its unanimous judgment of October 19, 2016; therefore the application could not stand. Mr. Adesokan who expressed ignorance of the Court of Appeal judgment was handed a copy by Mr. Ezeilo. Upon seeing the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Adesokan withdrew his application which was then struck out by the court.
The Nigerian Copyright Commission had in FHC/IKJ/CR/18/2012, FHC/IKJ/CR/19/2012 and FHC/IKJ/CR/20/2012 brought three different cases against Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) and seven of its accused officers for performing the duties of a collecting society without the approval of the Commission.
In court to witness the proceedings was Chief Tony Okoroji, Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) the only approved copyright collective management organization in the Nigerian music industry.