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Barr. James Ononiwu
A recent publication by Mr. Pretty Okafor, the factional president of the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN), circulated on social media, about the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and its chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, is based on blatant falsehood, incurable desire to be relevant, burning envy and malice of the worst kind.
Mr. James Ononiwu of the Lagos-based Whitedove Solicitors, lawyer to COSON, made this known in a statement issued on Monday in Lagos, stressing that the statements are defamatory of COSON and Chief Tony Okoroji and deserve to be fully confronted and will be confronted.
Mr. Ononiwu said that it was very well known that COSON is a very transparent organisation that does not deal in any criminal or shady activities. He said that everybody is reminded that the ground-breaking copyright royalty agreement between COSON and Multichoice Nigeria is not a secret agreement but a well-publicised advancement of the Nigerian copyright system celebrated with a big event at Lagos Oriental Hotel with many frontline journalists present.
Ononiwu further stated that all payments made by Multichoice Nigeria to COSON for use of works in the COSON repertoire is 100% legal and have been fully disclosed in every relevant audited accounts of COSON, a copy of which is sent every year to each of the thousands of members of COSON and filed with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Mr. Ononiwu is of the opinion that “the incurably noisy Pretty Okafor may still be dazed by the significant victory Chief Tony Okoroji recently dealt him in the widely reported judgment delivered by Hon Justice A.A. Oyebanji of the High Court of Lagos State”.
Said Ononiwu: “This character who deludes himself by behaving as if he is above the law would not have forgotten that there is a restraining court order against him from further defamation of the character of Chief Tony Okoroji and that he is still a judgment debtor to Chief Okoroji”.
Ononiwu advised all those publishing Pretty Okafor’s reckless defamatory statements to refrain from further doing so as they may expose themselves to legal action.
Pretty Okafor and two of his acolytes, it will be recalled, in 2018 went to the Federal High Court to shut down the bank accounts of COSON. But Justice M.S. Hassan of the Federal High Court on February 6, 2019 struck out Okafor’s suit saying that he came to court with misleading facts and the matter was an abuse of court process. As a result, Pretty Okafor and Co are currently defending an application for N400 Million Naira in damages against them.
The COSON lawyer has however, vowed that if Pretty Okafor does not publish an unreserved public apology to the members of COSON and Chief Tony Okoroji within two weeks, he would be slammed with a new and hefty lawsuit, the kind he would not find pretty at all.
Said Mr. Ononiwu: “This character must be made to understand that Nigeria is a nation of laws and he cannot just open his mouth and vomit any nonsense and make any unsubstantiated allegations any time he feels like. Let it be clear that Okafor will not be allowed to spread his outright fabrications which are the baseless figments of the imagination of a sick man”.
Mr. Ononiwu reaffirmed the fact that COSON which is by far Nigeria’s biggest copyright collective management organisation with membership across the length and breadth of the Nigerian nation, continues to operate as a full-fledged corporate entity representing millions of musical works and sound recordings assigned to it by its thousands of members in Nigeria through legally executed Deeds of Assignment or by legal agreements entered into with more than 100 Collective Management Organisations around the world.
Maintained Ononiwu: “We are not unaware that there is a group of hungry and greedy charlatans desperate to get their hands on COSON because COSON is the one successful organisation in the nation’s copyright industry. The hunger in the land is driving them crazy but COSON is strong enough to take them on.
“Where are the audited accounts of Pretty Okafor’s ramshackle PMAN which shamelessly operates from no fixed address? Who audited the Okafor PMAN books? When were they filed with the Registrar of Trade Unions? When did the Registrar approve the returns? Indeed, how many people are parading themselves as PMAN President in Nigeria?”
“Pretty Okafor may in the past have escaped with talking without discipline and self-control and not facing any consequences. This time, this meddlesome interloper who is not even a member of COSON and has no worthwhile repertoire assigned to COSON will be told that Nigeria is a nation of laws and he will be made to pay heavily for his outrageous behavior”.