If you have followed this trail recently, you would have read the bizarre tale of how a Federal High Court Judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba has twice been, gestapo style, arm twisted and blocked from delivering judgment in a matter dealing with MCSN, a syndicate operating in the Nigerian music industry. The judgment of Buba is meant to resolve a critical issue for musicians and those who deploy music in their businesses in Nigeria. That issue is whether the syndicate that goes by the name Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) is truly approved under Nigerian law to collect millions of Naira from music users as copyright royalties on behalf of innocent Nigerian musicians.
There is a huge ongoing effort to make sure that Justice Buba does not answer that question. At the last adjourned date on December 14 when the usually firm Justice Ibrahim Buba was scheduled to deliver the judgment, in his words, “come rain, come sunshine”, a hapless Justice Buba announced in open court that the case file had been taken from him and that he had no choice but adjourn the judgment to an unknown date!
You may want to ask how this crazy tale developed. It was about this time last year that a conspiracy was hatched to foist on the music industry in Nigeria the MCSN syndicate which together with its leadership have seven different criminal cases before different judges of the Federal High Court.
As one Mayowa Ayilaran, the henchman of MCSN who is on bail on each of the aforementioned seven criminal cases and Salihu Othman Isa, the S.A. (Media) to the Attorney-General of the Federation cooked this poisonous soup in their kitchen at the Federal Ministry of Injustice in Abuja, they kept the AGF, the man charged with the responsibility of ensuring that Nigerian laws are obeyed, well briefed on their secret plot. No one at Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation’s officially approved collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings of which I am chairman was given the slightest hint about what was going on. It was top secret.
I have already told the tale of how I found out about the conspiracy, how I met with the Attorney-General of the Federation in his Abuja office and how he told me the cock and bull story that he did not quite know what was cooking and heaped the blame on Salihu Othman Isa. I also told the story of his firm promise to fix the problem within seven days and how his topmost aide started assaulting me with vile text messages because I dared to go public with this crazy conspiracy. You must have also read how the MCSN syndicate infiltrated the residence of Justice Ibrahim Buba in Lagos.
Seven days promised by the AGF turned to seven weeks and the AGF said nothing. Weeks turned to months yet the AGF did nothing and the MCSN syndicate was growing muscles and harassing users of music across the country. It was clearly time go to court and seek judicial clarification about the strange developments.
On August 14, 2017, COSON filed an Originating Summons at the Federal High Court Lagos against MCSN, the NCC and the AGF. In support of the Originating Summons, I swore to an affidavit in which I stated that the purported approval granted the MCSN syndicate was pursuant to a directive of the AGF to the Nigerian Copyright Commission in exercise of functions and powers which he claimed to have under section 50 of the Copyright Act.
I went on to state that the AGF in exercise of those claimed functions and powers also issued a directive to the NCC to withdraw all pending cases against the MCSN syndicate and its officers including the seven pending criminal cases at the Federal High Court, Lagos, against the syndicate and seven of its officers.
On September 14, 2017, one Ogundipe Akinniyi on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation swore to and filed a curious counter affidavit trying to extricate the AGF from the conspiracy. In the affidavit, Mr. Akinniyi stated that the AGF was not involved in any of the activities complained of by COSON and that the alleged wrongdoings in the suit were not the acts of the AGF nor were they authorized by him! He even went on to agree that the AGF could not have issued any directives pursuant to Section 50 of the Copyright Act as it is the Minister charged with the responsibility for culture that has such powers. Confused? I was too.
The only problem is that I have a copy of a letter to the NCC dated March 22, 2017 personally signed twice by the AGF and copied to MCSN. Of course, COSON was never officially copied the letter. Please read these excerpts from the long letter in which the AGF twisted and turned to knock down the strong protest of the NCC and to find justification for his unlawful directives to the Commission:
“In view of the foregoing, you are hereby directed to comply with my earlier directive, made and issued by virtue of the power conferred on me by S.50 of the Copyright Act, to wit; to issue with immediate effect, an approval by way of license to the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) Ltd/Gte to operate as a collecting society for the purpose of the Act.
“You are hereby also further directed to withdraw any pending cases/appeals, criminal or otherwise instituted by the commission in all courts upon the withdrawal by MCSN of its own cases”
Does the above read like fiction to you? Mainagate has yet to be resolved. Why would a young man given such recognition by the President of his country fail his nation so badly? If Abubakar Malami has any self-respect left, I believe that the time has come for him to step down. If he would not, it is my strongly held opinion that President Muhammadu Buhari has a duty to himself and to the Nigerian nation to show this young man the door before he does incalculable harm to our nation.
Meanwhile, the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court should immediately ensure that the case file in Suit No FHC/L/CS/1259/2017 is returned to Justice Ibrahim Buba to deliver his judgment and anyone who does not like the judgment should then proceed to the Court of Appeal. If anybody thinks that this matter will go away, he is kidding. This may be the last time anyone will blatantly poke his fingers in the eyes of the Nigerian creative community.
Happy New Year everyone.
See you next week.
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