NCC Has No Case Against Me -Tony Okoroji
Tony Okoroji says he is not intimidated by the heavy hammer of the country’s copyright commission, because he believes that he has not committed any crime.
The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) had earlier accused the Tony Okoroji led faction of the Copyright Society of Nigeria of illegally demanding and collecting royalties on behalf of musicians.
According to a statement by the NCC, the accused persons were dragged to court for ‘engaging in the business of negotiating and granting licenses on behalf of Copyright owners without the approval of the Commission and thereby committed an offense contrary to and punishable under sections 39 (4) (5) and (6) of the Copyright ACI Cap C 28 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.'
In the charge with No FHC/L/338C/18 filed on October 8 2018, at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, the accused persons which include Tony Okoroji, Chinedu Chukwuji, Bernice Eremieghe, and Miss Anne Okomi were alleged to have performed the duties of a collecting society by demanding and collecting royalties from Noah’s Ark of 9 Sowemimo Street, GRA, Ikeja Lagos.
While speaking to Bounce News on the incident, Tony Okoroji said he is a law abiding citizen who would never do anything to break the law.
He explained that the NCC had no case against him, as there were already court orders prevent the NCC from pressing charges against him and his colleagues.
"Copyright is the property of people, both songs and sound recordings, and if you say someone should not license the property of people who have advised their works to them, what are you asking the public to do, to go and use the works free of charge?
"This is their source of income, what you are doing is that you are taking away their constitutional right to income. It makes no sense", he said.
He said that the commission obviously did not have any backup plan after he decided to suspend the license of COSON.
“You are saying that we should not give license any more, you want the musicians family to starve? What are they supposed to do, what is the back up?
"There is a court order preventing them (NCC) from doing what they are doing, why would they defy the court order? The court have told them to stop, but they are going ahead with it.
If my crime for doing the right thing will make me go to jail, for helping musicians get what rightfully belongs to them, then I would be proud to do that” he added.
This was confirmed by the lawyer to Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), James Ononiwu, who says that despite the existence of a Federal High Court order restraining the NCC from interfering with the operations of COSON, the NCC have decided to go ahead to file criminal charges.
“It is laughable for the Nigerian Copyright Commission to go to town to say that they have filed a criminal action against Chief Tony Okoroji and some other officers of COSON, because Chief Tony Okoroji is a former board member of the commission and one of the drafters of the Nigerian Copyright Act” he revealed.
Ononiwu claims that the Director-General of the NCC, Afam Ezekude was using the COSON sanction as a way to distract the public from the request by NCC staff to get Ezekude arrested and prosecuted for allegedly stealing millions from the coffers of the commission.
The criminal charges are coming after the NCC had on April 30th, 2018, suspended the license of COSON as it was carrying out investigations into the long crisis in the governing board of COSON.
The Tony Okorji and Efe Omorogbe led boards, each claimed to be the authentic board of the commission.
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