Just In: Access Bank In Big Trouble As Musicians Drag CEO To Court For Contempt

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Mr. Roosevelt Michael Ogbonna, MD/CEO, Access Bank Plc

The battle between the musicians of Nigeria and one of the country’s biggest banks, Access Bank Plc, has taken a new turn with the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Mr. Roosevelt Michael Ogbonna and the bank’s Company Secretary, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Osime, risk going to jail.

This is as the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Nigeria’s biggest copyright collective management organisation, has begun contempt proceedings against the two, following Access Bank’s failure to unfreeze the accounts of COSON in the bank and to pay damages for unlawful freezing of COSON’s account as ordered by the Federal High Court.

www.beats-onit.com has learnt that weary of Access Bank’s intransigence, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has just filed a “Notice of Consequences of Disobedience to Order of Court”, otherwise known as Form 48, at the Federal High Court, Lagos directed at Mr. Ogbonna and Mrs. Osime.

Read the document: “TAKE NOTICE that unless you obey the order contained in the Judgement of this Honourable Court dated the 4th day of May, 2022 to wit: “An order of this court is hereby made directing the Defendant to IMMEDIATELY unfreeze the Plaintiff’s account with the bank frozen without any court order whatsoever and to release all restrictions placed on the plaintiff’s bank accounts including the withdrawal of funds from the account.” ;
“An Order of injunction is hereby made restraining the Defendants or its agents, privies or servants from further freezing the accounts of the Plaintiff or placing any restriction on the accounts of the Plaintiff without a valid court order, you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison”.

Justice Yellin S. Bogoro of the Federal High Court, Lagos, it will be recalled, in a celebrated judgment made since May 4, 2022, ordered Access Bank Plc to IMMEDIATELY unfreeze the bank accounts of COSON at the bank and to pay COSON 70 million naira in damages for unlawful freezing of its accounts. Despite the order of Justice Bogoro and an earlier decision in 2019 by Justice M.S. Hassan, Access Bank has for a period of close to four years continued to withhold COSON’s funds which has resulted in the storming of the bank a few weeks back by many angry musicians.

Written instructions given to the bank by COSON to pay earned specific royalties to several musicians have also been disobeyed by the bank.

The full Board of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), rose from a meeting held at the Boardroom of COSON House in Ikeja, two weeks ago, calling on Access Bank Plc to be a good corporate citizen and ensure that all court orders against it are fully obeyed. The Board asked the Bank to understand that while it is a defendant in one case today, it would be a plaintiff in another case tomorrow and when it prevails in court, the bank would expect the other party to respect the judgment of the court.

The Board stressed that the respect for the rule of law was critical to the stability and progress of every nation. Unfortunately, the appeal by the COSON Board seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Said a prominent musician who spoke to www.beats-onit.com: “These people are joking with Tony Okoroji. Okoroji is a marathon runner. He has a lot of stamina and patience. I do not understand what Access Bank stands to gain by allowing this matter to linger.

“The musicians are led by a man who is very articulate, principled and fearless. He will give Access Bank a run for their money”.

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