Legal Drama

Legal Showdown: Entertainment Lawyer Ope Banwo files 100Million Naira Lawsuit against Toni Okoroji & COSON Staff

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This is an ongoing feud between COSON and MCSN that I have discussed, at length, on this blog. However, the feud took a different tone this week because COSON and its executives threatened a lawsuit against MCSN’s Ope Banwo over the alleged defamatory statements Banwo published on his Facebook page about Okoroij and COSON. COSON published the threat through a written statement threatening a lawsuit against Banwo if he did not retract his statements and issue an apology.

Banwo, ever the litigator at heart, did not wait for Okoroji’s lawsuit. He took the fight to Okoroji and COSON by filing a lawsuit against both.

It’s unfortunate these two organizations and their leaders continue to wage war against each other. As to the issue of how many performance rights society Nigeria should have, my position has always been that a country with over 180million people should not be limited to just one collecting society. It makes no sense to me and is a monopoly. I also blame the courts and the federal government for some really confusing rulings and actions over the years, especially where MCSN is concerned.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case.

-Ms. Uduak

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COSON Lawyers Declare ‘War’ On Ope Banwo

Lawyers to Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) acting also on behalf of Chief Tony Okoroji, the society’s Chairman, have demanded a retraction of recent statements made by Mr. Ope Banwo against COSON and Chief Okoroji.

They have also demanded that Mr. Banwo tender a conspicuous and unreserved apology to Chief Tony Okoroji and COSON on Facebook and four Nigerian newspapers, namely, the Guardian, the Sun, the Punch and Vanguard within seven days. The lawyers have furthermore demanded that Mr. Banwo pay the sum of N100,000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) to Chief Okoroji and another N100,000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) to COSON for what the lawyers have described as significant injury caused by Mr. Banwo to Chief Okoroji and COSON.

A letter dated May 5, 2017 sent to Mr. Banwo and signed by Lagos lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige of CREATIVE LEGAL, Seun Omotoba & Co, says:

‘We refer to your widely circulated publication on Facebook titled “TIME TO BLOW WHISTLE ON TONI OKOROJI: HOW DID TONY OKOROJI SPEND OVER N300, 000, 000.00 IN COPYRIGHT ROYALTIES COLLECTED ON BEHALF OF NIGERIAN ARTISTES” and other vile statements you have repeatedly published in the last fortnight against our Clients.

‘By the said publications, you have made several blatantly false, baseless and malicious statements including innuendos which were clearly intended by you to lower the hard-won reputation of our Clients and to incite stakeholders in the Nigerian music industry to revolt against our Clients and to distort and destroy their legacies.

‘Our Clients have also been informed that having not been invited and not being a member of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and not having any genuine business to do at COSON, you on Friday 28 April 2017 stormed the offices of COSON at Omodara Street, Opebi Lagos and without anyone’s permission and with a smartphone began to livestream the images of the staff of COSON at work and the premises of our Clients on the Internet accompanied by very vile, false and inciteful statements and commentaries made by you against our Clients also clearly intended to engineer a revolt against our Clients.

‘We are informed that you are a lawyer and as a lawyer, you ought to know better.

‘We have been instructed by our Clients to demand and we hereby demand a retraction of the false and injurious statements you have published against our Clients and to tender a conspicuous and unreserved apology to our Clients published on Facebook and in the Guardian Newspaper, the Sun Newspaper, the Punch and Vanguard Newspapers within 7 (seven) days of receipt of this letter. Furthermore, you are to pay to each of our clients the sum of N100,000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira each) for the significant injury you have caused our Clients.

‘Be informed that if you fail, refuse or neglect to meet the demands of our Clients, our instructions are to deploy every instrument and process allowed by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to seek redress against you’

It will be recalled that it was the same Mr. Justin Ige of Creative Legal that won the famous victories for Chief Tony Okoroji against singer, Onyeka Onwenu in two landmark defamation cases at the High Court of Lagos State and at the Court of Appeal.

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DR OPE BANWO VS TONY OKOROJI – FIRST LEGAL SHOTS FIRED AS I HAVE TODAY FILED A N100,000,000 [N100,000,000 NAIRA] LAWSUIT AGAINST TONY OKOROJI, COSON AND ITS STAFF! – Since it has never been my nature to sit down in my house and let someone bring the war to me, and since Tony Okoroji is too chicken to file the lawsuit he threatened, I have instructed my own team of lawyers to FILE A N100,000,000.00 Lawsuit AGAINST TONY OKOROJI.

This lawsuit was successfully filed in the High Court Yesterday by Yemi Salman Esq. and Oluyinka Oyeniji Esq. He is being served as we speak and interested journalists can request copies of the writ as needed at the court with CASEID#: Temp/27933/17 – Dr. Open Banwo V. Toni Okoroji & 2 ors.

This first lawsuit is the first in a series of Lawsuits I will be filing over the next 7 days to hold Mr. Tony Okoroji and his Staff at Coson responsible for EVERY UTTERANCE, EVERY ACTION AND EVERY MONEY SPENT concerning the music industry where i have invested over N100,000,000 in the last 7 years.

This battle with Tony Okoroji over his refusal to allow competition in the music copyright collection in Nigeria, has now being initiated in the courts by me is to settle this issue of MONOPOLY AND CONTINUOUS TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH MCSN ACTIVITIES by those who want to hold Nigerian Copyright Collection regime hostage in the grips of a paralyzing monopoly.

For the information of Nigerians, The Attorney General has already indicated that THIS GOVT will not abide monopoly in any form and it has issued the appropriate licenses to MCSN to engender competition in the industry, but the Cabal who have been controlling the monopoly are refusing to go quietly. They have been attacking the Attorney General and officers in the Attorney General’s office of all sorts of ridiculous and libelous things in an attempt to blackmail them into reversing a decision already taken and executed to license MCSN.

We are also ware that Tony Okoroji and his people have been parading Abuja political circles lobbying all sorts of people in an effort to turn back the hands of the clock but I doubt if he would have any success, since we are on the progress in this one. We will join issues with him there too. By the grace of God, we know he does not have monopoly of access to government officials either. So THIS COMPETITION SHIP HAS SAILED AND NO AMOUNT OF PRESS CAMPAIGN BY COSON OR THEIR CHAIRMAN CAN CHANGE THAT.

My goal now is to put those who want to hold us back to open shame and ridicule, both in the courts of our land and in the courts of public opinion, by constantly highlighting the issues, and ignoring their personal campaign of calumny against me. Hopefully COSON’s Chairman and his people will get some wisdom and choose to go about their own business instead of perpetually seeking to destroy David like Saul did before he met his shameful death.

It was King Saul’s obsession with destroying David that ultimately led to his own death. If care is not taken, COSON (A TYPOLOGY OF King Saul) may very well meet the same fate if they don’t let the MCSN (the typology of David) be. Whatever a man sows, that is what he shall reap. As Tony Okoroji and his COSON continues has continuously sown the wind of destruction against MCSN and its officials (including calling those of us on their Board criminals, and even getting some of the MCSN officers arrested and thrown in jail several times for daring to exercise their legal rights as an organization), they should be ready for the whirlwind harvest of destruction that, according to the Law of The Seed mandates, would be on its way to them if they don’t quickly change course.

It’s a fact that Tony Okoroji and Coson already had a 7 YEAR HEADSTART OVER MCSN. THEY ARE BOASTING OF THEIR MIGHT AND ABILITY OT CRUSH THE RESURGENT MCSN. BUT THAT’S WHAT SAUL AS THE KING ALSO THOUGHT…. UNTIL HE MET HIS WATERLOO….

I hereby appeal to some of the fine gentlemen who are part of the COSON Board, and whom I have tremendous respect for, such as my esteemed friends AUDU MAIKORI AND OBI ASIKA JNR, to speak some ‘sense’ into their Chairman before he drags all of them and their organization through needless hell because if Tony Okoroji knew anything about me, he would know I won’t quit and I won’t surrender. Even if this war takes 20 years!

MONOPOLY IN ANY FORM MUST BE BROUGHT TO ITS KNEES IN OUR COUNTRY!

It’s a fact that Tony Okoroji and Coson already had a 7 YEAR HEADSTART OVER MCSN. THEY ARE BOASTING OF THEIR MIGHT AND ABILITY OT CRUSH THE RESURGENT MCSN. BUT THAT’S WHAT SAUL AS THE KING ALSO THOUGHT…. UNTIL HE MET HIS WATERLOO….

My parting advise to Tony Okoroji and Coson, therefore, not that they would listen, is for COSON to accept the current status quo, make peace with the inevitable, and go back to the drawing board now that their gravy train has been disrupted by the recent decision of the Attorney General of the Federation. They should leave MCSN and their competitors to go about their own business too and then let the MARKET FORCES DECIDE who wins and who loses like in any civilized environment. The alternative is unending war from those of us who are opposed to any form of oppression.

MONOPLOY IN ANY FORM IN OUR ECONOMY IS AN OPPRESSION AND WILL NOT BE ALLLOWED TO STAND! On that I give Tony Okoroji my solemn word and my solemn promise. I will NOT be cowed by his personal attacks and blackmailing lies against me by him or his officers. I will take the high road, and keep sticking to the facts while they can continue to wallow in the gutter of ad hominem attacks instead of debating issues.

My open message to Mr. Tony Okoroji is to ensure that he does evade service of court processes as they bring them to his offices today as I speak. Next week we will serve him with the Petition to EFCC and the Class Action Lawsuit by the artistes whose money he is alleged to have spent without accounting for them, especially those artistes who never signed up for COSON but whose royalties were collected anyway by COSON under a blanket collection agreement with radio stations.

WE HAVE RECORDS! And everything hidden from the helpless artistes will be exposed in due course as we all join issues before the courts and the court of public discourse. Of course, Tony Okoroji too is free to file even more lawsuits of his own. As I am concerned, THE MORE THE MERRIER so that all issues can finally be resolved by our court system. So, I am patiently waiting for your own court processes!

Let Tony Okoroji and his team be informed that I do not fight without provocation. I am always ready for peace anytime you are, but I will not wait and let you bring any war. If you want to continue fighting over your inexplicable obsession to maintain a monopoly in management of copyright collections in Nigeria, then let’s go! I will join issues with you on any forum you choose – TV, RADIO, SOCIAL MEDIA, COURT ROOMS and EVEN THE GOVT (You are NOT the only one with access and connections in those media.

As the 1st of my 3 Live videos last week showed (thank God, the 3 videos before, at the time and after I came to your office are in the public domain and already filed as part of my court processes), I came to your office to EXPLORE PEACE OPTIONS BETWEEN YOUR ORGANZIATION AND MCSN FOLLOWING OUR BOARD MEETING WHERE I HAD INFORMED THE MCSN BOARD MEMBERS THAT I THINK IT’S A WORTHY MOVE TO TAKE. They warned me that people at COSON would NEVER sit down to discuss peace as long as Tony Okoroji was in charge, but I didn’t believe them until you and your people proved them right. (I said I was coming to meet you to discuss peace moves in my live broadcast BEFORE leaving for your office) but instead your staff decided to assault me, humiliate and embarrass me publicly for daring to come into the public offices of COSON to make enquiries and have a meeting with an organization who is exercising a stranglehold on an industry of which I am a vested investor.

So, by not calling your unruly staff to order, and apologize to me for being publicly manhandled and falsely imprisoned in your premises for some minutes, you have endorsed their shameful public assault and false imprisonment against me in the full view of the world. So, now we go to war.

When you are ready for peace, you have my numbers and I am ALWAYS on Facebook. Until then, as Churchill said to Germany in the second world war, I will fight you in the air, in the land and in the sea with everything I have. MONOPLOY WILL NEVER BE ALLOWED TO THRIVE IN OUR MUSIC INDUSTRY!!

Once the matter is set down before a Judge by the court registrar, I know I will not be allowed to comment much on the issues, so I intend to say a LOT before then.
Orits Williki

#SayNoToMonopolistOkoroji

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Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law blog and podcast show by Fashion and Entertainment Lawyer Ms. Uduak Oduok empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia.

Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the prestigious Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.
For legal representation inquiries, please email (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). For blog related inquiries i.e. advertising, licensing, or guest interview requests, please email (africamusiclaw@gmail.com). Thank you for visiting Africa Music Law™.

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