SATURDAY BREAKFAST with TONY OKOROJI
THE BAD LOSERS AT MCSN WANT A REPLAY OF A MATCH THEY LOST 7 YEARS AGO!
The finals were played on May 20, 2010. The trophy was won. The spectators have long gone home. The referee has since retired from the game. Suddenly, the very bad losers at MCSN want a match that was won and lost 7 years ago to be replayed!
In their always shifting arguments, they now want 2 trophies so they can have one!
In 2009, three organizations applied to be approved as collective management organizations for the music industry. They were COSON, MCSN and WASPAN. Each of the organizations very well knew that with the provisions of the law, only one of them would be approved. There would be only one trophy.
When the result was announced on May 20, 2010, expectedly, COSON was approved. COSON was approved because it had the full support of the Nigerian Music Industry Coalition backed by 10 of the biggest national associations in the industry including PMAN, NARI, MORAN, PMRS, AMB.PRO, MUPMAN, etc. COSON also had by far the largest spread of membership and repertoire of music in Nigeria. Mr Adebambo Adewopo who was Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission when COSON was approved by the NCC was a well-known MCSN lawyer. The fact that Adewopo authorized the approval of COSON is instructive.
Upon the approval of COSON, WASPAN, one of the applicants for approval readily agreed to work with COSON. Despite repeated appeal to MCSN by COSON for all to work together in the interest of the Nigerian music industry, MCSN refused and decided to go to court to contest their loss.
Despite their non-approval, MCSN also continued to collect royalties in defiance of the law. At a point, the MCSN argument changed and became: ’we do not require an approval to collect royalties. We are not a CMO but “owners, assignee and exclusive licensees”! This was the same organization that applied for a CMO license and lost. Of course, MCSN lost this incredibly convoluted argument at the Court of Appeal. They went to the Supreme Court and their case was struck out.
MCSN even went to court to challenge the registration of COSON by the Corporate Affairs Commission. They lost.
MCSN went ahead to challenge the constitutionality of the provisions of Section 39 of the Copyright Act which prescribes only one approved CMO for each class of works. Their argument? The provisions of Section 39 abridged their rights to freedom of association.
In Suit No. FHC/L/CS/478/08, MCSN sought a declaration that Section 39 of the Copyright Act is unconstitutional, null and void. Justice I.M. Sani of the Federal High Court disagreed with them. They lost. They appealed Justice Sani’s decision. In Appeal No: CA/L/575/09, the Court of Appeal in another unanimous judgment vehemently disagreed with MCSN ruling that the provisions of the Copyright Act are constitutional. MCSN once again lost.
MCSN ignored the several rulings of the courts and continued to collect copyright royalties without approval. It was then that officers of the Nigerian Copyright Commission went to their office in Lagos and arrested their CEO, Mr. Mayo Ayilaran and six of his staff.
Most people will remember the scatting media campaign mounted by MCSN against the NCC. They said that the arrest of their officers was an infringement of their fundamental human rights. The matter once again went up to the Court of Appeal and the court in CAL/L/350/2013 (NCC v MCSN, Mayo Ayilaran & 6 others) unanimously ruled that the arrest was very much in order. Once again, MCSN lost. Finally, the shit had hit the fan.
To escape criminal trial in the 7 cases brought against them before different judges of the Federal High Court, Ayilaran and MCSN hatched a new plan to penetrate the Federal Ministry of Justice where they used an aid to the HAGF to concoct the directive that MCSN should be approved with zero adherence to the rule of law and due process and that the 7 criminal cases against MCSN and its officers should be quashed! They want an ‘approval’ in 2017 to wipe away offences committed as far back as 2012 when clearly MCSN had no approval. Wow!
Their new media campaign about ‘monopoly’ is diversionary. There is no question that if MCSN had been the only CMO approved in 2010, Ayilaran and MCSN would have widely celebrated the approval and will not be talking about ‘monopoly’. The Nigerian music industry has tasted multiple CMOs before. It did not work. The industry came together to back one CMO which was approved seven years ago and which has been professional, transparent, accountable and one of the most admired in the African continent. Suddenly, Mayo Ayilaran and his MCSN gang want a replay of a match that was won and lost seven years ago.
In fourteen days, specifically on May 20, the cream of Nigeria will come together to commission the ultra-modern COSON House in the heart of Ikeja. COSON House will be a symbol that ours is not a jinxed profession. Thousands of musicians across the country are happy that we will no longer be paying rent. Finally, Nigerian musicians have a beautiful place we can call our own. The magnificent building is called ‘COSON House’ and not ‘Tony Okoroji House’
Nearly 25 years ago, I did everything possible to have the PMAN Plaza built for musicians in Abuja. We acquired a piece of choice land, put together fantastic architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical and other designs. We syndicated the financing for the project and even began the foundation. I remember clearly those who stormed PMAN Headquarters in Ikeja one afternoon to disrupt a meeting of the financing group. That was the day I decided to walk away from PMAN. Where is the PMAN Plaza today? I even hear that in shady circumstances, they have sold the land which I acquired for Nigerian musicians and that they pocketed the money.
Some of the same people who wrecked the PMAN Plaza are back. Driven by bad belle and fuelled by their MCSN mentality, they cannot see anything good in COSON House. That is their prerogative. I was at the COSON House site yesterday as I have been every day for months. There is still an incredible amount of work going on but COSON House is standing! Glory be to the Almighty.
See you next week....