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Tony Okoroji and his lawyer, James Ononiwu
By Victor Nwokocha
When the broke recently that Hon. Justice A. A. Oyebanji of the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja, on June 11, 2020, delivered judgment in a libel action filed by Chief Tony Okoroji against Mr. Pretty Okafor on May 22, 2018, restraining Mr. Okafor from further defamation of the character of Chief Tony Okoroji and ordering him to pay Chief Okoroji the sum of Two Million Naira as general damages, it did not come as a surprise to those who had objectively analyzed the issue, especially those familiar with Chief Okoroji’s sterling pedigree and his many legal battles that have resulted in expanding the frontiers of jurisprudence.
Curiously, while the issue lasted, Mr. Okafor (also known as factional President of PMAN), was either incapable of reading the handwriting on the wall or had chosen to ignore it believing that some magical twist would alter his descent into the pit of infamy. He probably didn’t reckon with the Majek Fashek axiom that “You don’t expect to sow cassava and reap up cocoyam”. He traded for ignominy, the opportunity to make peace with Chief Okoroji.
It does appear as a natural phenomenon though, that anyone who chooses to embark on a fantastic journey to Neverland, would be like a falcon that cannot hear the falconer until he completes his journey through the circular road to nothingness. Very few persons, if any, survive the experience.
An Igbo legend tells of a tortoise that decided to embark on a strange journey. Elders warned him against the move, pointing out that his would be a journey of disgrace. But the tortoise insisted, and the elders had no choice but to let him have his way. He adorned himself with glamorous robes which he borrowed for his journey and set forth, looking pretty good. Remarkably, he had acolytes who admired his looks and applauded his rhythmic steps on the journey. But the elders, watching in the silence of superior wisdom, saw his steps like those of one dancing to the syncopated drumbeats of shame. In due time, his journey ended in utter disgrace. And the supposedly admired Pretty Tortoise was stripped naked, giving everyone the full view of how ugly he really was. Then he realized belatedly that his worst mistake was to have believed in his own lies and self-delusion.
Our ‘Pretty Tortoise’ in this story symbolizes all those who had attempted (and those still attempting) to use falsehood to demolish the great Human Tower of Knowledge known as Tony Okoroji. But his authority of knowledge, his uncommon courage, ultra-meticulous respect for processes and details, and his exemplary commitment to humanism, continues to stand as his protective firewalls consuming every Pretty Tortoise and exposing their truly ugly nature for everyone to see. You cannot demolish truth with lies. Your lies may subsist for a while but they will most certainly be blown away like dust in the face of a rising wind. God honours truth.
In his masterfully crafted piece as Guest Columnist on the widely read Saturday Breakfast with Tony Okoroji (June 13, 2020), veteran entertainer, Patrick Doyle, writing on ‘NOW THAT PRETTY OKAFOR HAS FALLEN, WHO WILL BE NEXT’ echoed my thoughts with the words: “One would think that by now the Okoroji naysayers would know better than to come at Tony with lies and malice, but no, they persist to trumpet falsehood relentlessly, maybe in the forlorn hope that one lie would ultimately stick”.
The bad news for such puerile minds, however, is that NO LIE WOULD STICK! Not with the Tony Okoroji I know! Let them continue to try. The harder they come, the harder they will crash!
For the avoidance of doubt, I have said it before that Chief Tony Okoroji is not a perfect man and does not pretend to be one. But through his dogged efforts over time he has become the symbol of the perfection of excellence. This much is evident in the incredible milestones that the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has achieved under his watch as Chairman. From nothing – and I mean NOTHING at all – he has led a dynamic team that built COSON into Africa’s fastest growing and most admired copyright Collective Management Organization, which has not only distributed millions of naira as copyright royalties to Nigerian musicians but also erected the magnificent COSON House that stands tall as a memorial of excellent leadership and the pride Nigeria’s creative industries.
In all truth, whatever rewards people envy Chief Okoroji for have been very hard-earned and that is why it would be easier for an elephant to pass through the eye of a micro needle than for anyone to redefine the Tony Okoroji persona employing lies and falsehood.
Let me use the immortal words of Robert Nesta Marley to advise the Okoroji naysayers that unless they toe the path of rectitude, this judgment against our latest Pretty Tortoise will not be the last trumpet… ‘Many more will have to suffer, many more will have to die. Don’t ask me why’.
Let’s watch out for the next person offering his neck on the gallows of justice. The answer, like Bob Dylan would say, is blowing in the wind.