AS OKOROJI BLASTS DOKPESI, BON
The House of Representatives has finally dimmed hope for the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) when it turned down appeal to liberalise the sector. The Orits Wiliki-led organisation had approached the House Committee on Justice and Judiciary to prevail on the NCC to give approval to the MCSN as a collecting management organisation based on a court order which the NCC insists has elapsed.
But chairman of the committee, Hon. Dr. Ali Ahmad said the approval of the NCC is required before any collecting management organisation can operate in Nigeria, stressing that the issue has already being settled in the decision of the Court of Appeal on MCSN VS CDT adding that the committee will not open the matter for further deliberation. He explained that any organization that performs the function of a collective management organisation without such approval is acting in breach of the law and ought to face the consequences.
The committee was investigating the complaint by the unapproved MCSN that the NCC had disobeyed orders of court obtained by it. Addressing the committee, the Director General of NCC, Mr. Afam Ezekude said that the NCC has full respect for the laws of the nation and under no circumstances has the NCC disobeyed the order of any court in Nigeria and that the order being referred to by MCSN was an interim order obtained exparte, which by the order itself and the rules of court lapsed as soon as the substantive suit was filed.
The DG emphasized that there was no order in existence for anybody to obey or disobey, challenging MCSN to exhibit the order and that NCC has at all times acted within the law and no one is above the law. He said the NCC has administrative, regulatory and enforcement powers similar to the police as provided in the Police Act, adding that the prosecution of MCSN officials was in accordance with the law and will continue.
Chairman, DAAR Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi who represented the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) called for the liberalization of collective management in Nigeria so that users can have a choice. In a passionate address to the committee, Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Chief Tony Okoroji said that until the approval of COSON three years ago, no broadcast station in Nigeria was paying royalties. He listed the several stations across the nation who are currently paying royalties or have concluded arrangement to pay as encompassing the Federal Government owned networks, FRCN and NTA.
Chief Okoroji informed the committee that for the first time in Nigeria, copyright royalties are being distributed to right owners in the music industry and lamented that the stations owned by Dokpesi, AIT and Raypower, continue to rabidly exploit the intellectual property of Nigeria artistes without authorization or any compensation. He described Dokpesi’s ‘gang up’ with MCSN as a classic case of ‘Divide and Rule’, with the intent to weaken COSON and continue the rape of Nigerian artistes.
He called on the lawmakers to tell Dokpesi that Nigerian artistes have come of age and that his tactics will not work. Present at the hearing were COSON reps, Sunny Neji, Banky W, Efe Omorogbe, Hon. John Ewelukwa Udegbunam, Azeezat Allen and COSON GM, Chinedu Chukwuji.Also present were Mr. Orits Williki, Daddy Showkey, Konga, Yinka Davies, Paul Play Dairo, Charles Oputa and Onyeka Owenu.