Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), one of Africa’s foremost copyright collective management organizations for musical works and sound recordings, has 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.
The suit No FHC/L/CS/1777/2019 which was filed this Tuesday, October 8 by Mr. James Ononiwu of the top Lagos law firm of Whitedove Solicitors is accompanied by a 40 paragraph Statement of Claim and 18 exhibits.
In the suit, 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.
Beyond the unfreezing of its accounts, COSON is claiming a total of two billion naira as general and special damages as well as damages for the loss of reputation and goodwill arising from the deception of the Defendant and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant or the agents, privies or servants of the Defendant from further freezing the accounts of the Plaintiff or placing any restrictions on the accounts of the Plaintiff without a valid court order;
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 Defendant and which customer has done nothing wrong to the bank.
In a related development, COSON lawyer, Mr. James Ononiwu who filed the suit, said, “I have said it several times that anyone, no matter who he is or what institution he represents, that lands one blow at COSON will receive five hot blows in return. The members of COSON are determined that no one will intimidate or crush this great Nigerian institution of creative people. They have told us to follow anyone who wishes to mess with COSON anywhere, to the Supreme Court and back. That is our brief and that is a brief we hold dear to our hearts. We join members of COSON across Nigeria in saying, ‘Let the music pay!’”