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Do you know that in our clime, people generally view anyone who goes to court as a troublemaker or a pest? I go to court but I am neither a trouble maker nor a pest. In fact, I am a man who loves peace, very much so.
But how can there be peace when there are too many troublemakers in the world? Too many liars, 419ers, hijackers, kidnappers, armed and pen robbers, and many who think that the world was created just for them and them alone. In case you do not know, the world is filled with many people walking around with only a body but no soul. They will kill you for nothing or take everything that belongs to everyone. They believe that they have a right to oppress everyone and God does not exist except for them. How can there be peace without justice?
There was a three-month period when I went to court practically every day. Yes, I go to court and take on those who do not believe in the rule of law. I thank God that several times, I have used the courts to burst their bubble and give them a bloody nose.
As a people, we love the word, ‘peace’. Our false understanding of peace is that you do not question falsehood, injustice, impunity, corruption or lawlessness. If you must question them, just shout in the newspapers, on TV or on Facebook, where your questioning has little or no effect.
I prefer to go to court, take the time, provide the evidence, get a court judgment and enforce it and set a precedent. I do not do it because I am cantankerous or quarrelsome. I do it because it is the most peaceful and civilized way to ensure that the weak does not dissolve under the pressure of the wicked.
In my several years serving people in the creative industry, I have met good people. I have also met all kinds of crazy and wicked creatures. There are those who are totally consumed by their love of money and of themselves. Their only measure of success is how much money they have packed at the expense of others. To them, money is God.
I know a guy who begins to tremble and shake at the sight of any significant amount of cash. Believe me, this guy was not born poor yet money has become his God. When my guy sights money, he becomes an animal. You may not believe it but my guy is convinced that once you see any measure of money, you have a duty to appropriate it regardless of who owns it. To him, any money that comes within your sight is yours and whatever you do to grab it is ok.
When such people accuse me of stealing, I understand them. In their minds, how can he be in control of such significant amount of money and spend it to build an edifice like COSON House in Lagos for the good of others when in the same Lagos he owns no house of his own? When they hear that COSON is distributing hundreds of millions of Naira, they sneer. In their minds infected by the crazy love of money, they cannot imagine how someone can distribute such money to others when he can appropriate all of it to himself. To them, the selflessness of Mother Theresa is a fable. The sacrifice of Martin Luther King is stupid. The 27 years that Nelson Mandela spent in prison is nonsense. After all, how much money did any of that bring? To these people, I must be either a fraud or a fool.
About four years ago, I was told that COSON would die because we decided to go to court and test the issues that had arisen. A number of people wanted the usual Nigerian quick fix. They made so much noise on Facebook and proclaimed as facts things that have neither rhyme nor reason. As we argued, some people were frightened. They wanted everyone to quickly gather in a pepper soup joint over some bottles of lager and stout. While fairly drunk, we will sweep the key issues under the carpet, take some photographs and proclaim that everything is ok. Six months later, reality would haunt everyone again as the same issues come back with a vengeance and completely destroy everything we have built. The good news is that COSON is not dead.
I have repeatedly said to people that the organization which I lead was built and nurtured on the platform of strict adherence to the rule of law. The resources of COSON which have been driving some people crazy and which they so desperately seek to control were put together with the assistance of the courts and on the wings of the rule of law. I have been to practically every court in the land to build those resources.
When my guys complain about the courts, they forget that the money that is driving them gaga is a product of the courts. How can we be afraid of the same courts? Those who want “beer parlor” peace in the music industry do not understand that without the rule of law, copyright is nothing and COSON is nothing.
In the area of the development of intellectual property management in Nigeria, COSON is a Pathfinder, a Forerunner, a Navigator or if you prefer, an Explorer. The rules under which copyright collective management must thrive in Nigeria need to be clearly set out by the courts and not in a beer parlor. That takes patience. My personal experience should tell everyone that not everything that you read on Facebook or watch on TV is true. On Facebook or TV, you can make the most outrageous claims about anything without a shred of evidence. In a court of law, you must provide evidence to back up your claims.
Believe me, there can never be true peace without justice. That is exactly why I go to court.
See you next week.