COPYRIGHT COMMISSION STAFF ASK DG TO RESIGN OVER COSON
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) Unit, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), has called for the immediate withdrawal of a letter dated 30th April, 2018 with reference No. NCC/DG/132/I/73 signed by the DG Mr. Ezekude, purportedly suspending the approval of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) to act as collective management organization. The ASCSN, NCC Unit has also warned Mr. Ezekude to immediately desist from his brazen attempt to foist a new leadership on COSON.
In a public notice jointly signed by the Chairman, Com. Ihuma Okwu Moses and Secretary, Com Kunle Olatunji, the association said that it frowns at the fact that at no time were such weighty issues and policy decisions discussed or agreed by the management and circular issued to that effect before Mr. Ezekude issued such a provoking letter. The Association considers the suspension of COSON approval as representing the personal foible of Mr. Ezekude and not the policy of the Commission.
The association asked Mr. Ezekude to resign so as to allow the NCC play the role of an umpire in its regulatory function in Copyright
The full text of the public notice is reproduced is hereunder:
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) Unit, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), has called for the immediate withdrawal of a letter dated 30th April, 2018 with reference No. NCC/DG/132/I/73 signed by the DG Mr. Ezekude, purportedly suspending the approval of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) to act as collective management organization. The ASCSN, NCC Unit warns Mr. Ezekude to immediately desist from his brazen attempt to foist a new leadership in COSON.
Election of the Board member/leadership of COSON is guided and regulated solely by the Articles of Association which is purely regulated by Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and not Copyright Act or Copyright (Collective Management Organization) Regulation. This fact which is an elementary principle of company law, we believe should be well understood by Mr. Ezekude the DG, Mr. Mike Akpan the Director Regulatory Department/Special Adviser to the DG and Mr. Obi Ezeilo, Head Lagos Office/NCC representative in COSON meetings.
The fact that COSON is a collective management organization does not take the legal personality of COSON as a company Ltd/Gte hence the election of the Board members as well as the operative law regulating the internal affairs of COSON is and still remains the prerogative of CAMA. Any infraction, breach or abuse in the election, composition and management of a company Ltd/Gte such as COSON can only be legitimately challenge at the Federal High Court which has jurisdiction over all matters bothering on CAMA.
The Nigeria Copyright Commission charge with the responsibility of administering and enforcing copyright matters in Nigeria and which incidentally is the regulating Agency for all Collecting Management Organizations including COSON can only regulate COSON only to the extent of collective management rights such as granting of license, collection of royalties, distribution of royalties etc and not regulating the operation of COSON as it relates to proceedings provided in Articles of Association under CAMA.
It could be recalled that COSON has been under the leadership of Chief Tony Okoroji as the Board Chairman for over seven (7) years now until December 7, 2017 when some Board members of COSON purported removed Chief Tony Okoroji and replaced him with Mr. Efe Omorogbe.
On December 19, 2017, the extra-ordinary general Assembly in its unanimous decision of the member removed Efe Omorogbe as a Board member/purported Chairman and reinstated Chief Tony Okoroji as the Chairman. The resolution removing Efe Omorogbe as a Board member/Chairman also removed over five (5) Board members of COSON and mandate the remaining five (5) Board members with Chief Tony Okoroji to replace the six (6) Board members removed pending the General Assembly schedule to hold later in May this year.
It could be recalled that the powers of the General Assembly/Extra-ordinary General Assembly is derived from Section of the COSON Bye-laws hence the business of COSON in the extra-ordinary General Assembly Congress is legitimate and binding on COSON.
It does not lie in the mouth of DG, Mr. Ezekude to declare the legitimate proceedings of COSON’s General Assembly irregular and illegitimate. The only legitimate authority of the Federal Government of Nigeria that can validly challenge the proceedings of COSON, a company Ltd/Gte is the Corporate Affairs Commission and the Federal High Court of Nigeria exercising its judicial powers.
To this extent, the action of the DG, Mr. Ezekude’s brazen and blatant refusal to abide by the resolution of the extra-ordinary General Assembly of COSON without any order of court is a flagrant abuse of process and undue arrogation of powers contrary to the extent laws and regulations within the copyright laws.
It is trite law and elementary principle of law that the status quo ante bellum is the original position before the occurrence of certain events. Flowing from the above, and given the above scenario which to the Association does not pose any legitimate dispute within COSON and granted but not conceding that there is, the status quo ante bellum remains the position of COSON before the events of 7th and 19th December, 2017 with Chief Tony Okoroji as COSON’s Substantive Chairman. This is a well established law in the Nigeria Jurisprudence and the contrary decision of the DG, Mr. Mike Akpan and Mr. Ezeilo recognizing Mr. Efe Omorogbe particularly in the letter reference No NCC/DG/050/11/348, last paragraph on page 2, is not only an indictment to the DG but as well a condemnable act which the Association will not hesitate to disassociate itself from such decision particularly as it does not represent the NCC management decision but the whims and caprices of Mr. Ezekude and his cronies Mr. Mike Akpan and Mr. Ezeilo who undoubtedly have their personal interest in the matter.
The association hereby reaffirm their position clearly that all the steps taken against COSON since January, 2018 without due recourse to any management decision of Nigeria Copyright Commission is abhorred.
The draconian directive as well as the letter written to the IGP to review their investigation already concluded on a matter and already charge to court even when NCC is not a party to the proceeding in criminal charge No. A/29/2018 COP Vs Efe Omorogbe is not only an abuse of office but also goes along way to demonstrate that Mr. Ezekude has descended into the arena of interested party and no longer an umpire as the Regulation capacity.
On this note Mr. Ezekude should voluntarily resign as the DG to allow NCC play the role of an umpire and its regulatory function in Copyright matters.
Furthermore, Mr. Ezekude in page 3 paragraph 3 of the letter under immediate reference stated that “a suit seeking among others, a declaration that Mr. Efe Omorogbe is not the Chairman of the Board of COSON, a matter which is still pending at the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja Division and await determination” Despite the knowledge of Mr. Ezekude of the pending suit as well as his knowledge of the elementary principles of law regarding sub-judice is not only pre-empting the decision of the court(s) but as well taken steps that are contemptuous of court proceedings. On this note again, the Association disassociate itself from such scandalous conduct which drags the integrity of the Commission, Management staff and our noble Associations members into disrepute.
Our concern giving rise to this publication is precipitated from a similar occurrence by the management against Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MSCN) in 2010 where the Commission was sued and damages in the sum of over forty Million was awarded against the Commission thereby depriving staff of their legitimate salaries in November and December, 2010.
The Association also considers the letter purportedly suspending the approval of COSON as a huge betrayal by Mr. Ezekude who had in a recent meeting held with the association representative after his press briefing, assured the Association that such draconian decision will not be made.
In the above reference meeting with the DG by the Association, the DG mentioned the blatant refusal of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria to comply with the Commission directive which bothers on proper documentation that will enable the Commission to properly regulate them (even when their approval was in gross violation of section 39 (3) of the Copyright Act) since 2017, yet no sanction as been issued to them let alone suspension of the approval. Why now COSON?
Nevertheless, COSON which indisputably is the pride of the Commission, Nigeria and Africa and also an institution that has attained global excellence in Copyright Collective Administration is been witch hunted to this extent over no justifiable issue is clearly an affront on the copyright industry in Nigeria. The Association will not fold its hands and allow Mr. Ezekude destroy the institution for the career officers in the sector. On this note, we refuse to identify with Mr. Ezekude’s wanton destruction of the copyright industry.
The Association frowns at the fact that at no time were such weighty issue and policy decision discussed or agreed by the management and circular issued to that effect before Mr. Ezekude issued such a provoking letter. The Association considers the suspension of COSON approval as representing the personal foible of Mr. Ezekude and not the policy of the Commission.
The Association considers the Suspension of COSON’s approval to operate as a collecting society and also Mr. Ezekude directive to continue to meet the personal cost from the funds of creator of works as a contradiction. This directive is not only injurious but to further deepen the seeming crisis in COSON when creators funds is used to meet the personal cost without corresponding services that will generate income for COSON.
The Association also wonders if the Commission after suspending COSON’s operating license to function as collective Management organization could still regulate the organization by demanding for the statement of account within seven (7) days of receipt of the letter of suspension.
The Association finds it’s more curious that Mr. Ezekude has not considered the concomitant effect of the suspension of COSON approval vis-à-vis the unhindered access given to the users of the works of the thousands of COSON members and affiliates within and outside the country haven being authorized by the suspension of approval to use private property of individual free of charge. What an outrage!
The Association is now convinced that Mr. Ezekude has all the time personally involved in engineering and precipitating the crises in COSON, so as to destroy the nation’s most successful organization in the copyright sector.
While the Association wishes to assure all members and affiliates of COSON and all genuine creative people in Nigeria that the senior staff of NCC stands with them; the Association once again calls for the immediate sacking of Mr. Ezekude as the DG of NCC as the entire staff of NCC has totally lost confidence in his leadership.
The Association is hereby calling on all well meaning Nigerian who either have a stake in the creative industry or lovers of the creative industry to join forces with the Association in calling for the removal of Mr. Ezekude to pave way for the growth of the regulatory agency and thereby guaranteeing better protection of the copyright industry in Nigeria.
For and behalf of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) Unit.
COM. IHUMA OKWU MOSES COM. KUNLE OLATUNJI
Unit Chairman Unit Secretary