N700M Lawsuit: COSON Drags First Bank to Court
First Bank Plc has been alleged of several cases of frauds in the past, but typically its representatives and spokesperson have always denied the allegations.
However, the current controversy playing out in First Bank is not one which can be denied.
Information available to us revealed that the Tony Okoroji-led Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), has dragged the bank to court.
The case was instituted in a Federal High Court, in Lagos. COSON, is seeking a seven hundred million naira compensation for the infringement on the copyright of its members.
In suit No. FHC/CS/L/530/2014 filed on behalf of COSON by Lagos IP lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige of Creative Legal, Seun Omotoba & Co, COSON is asking for the award of seven hundred million naira in unpaid royalties and damages against First Bank Plc for copyright infringement with respect to the unauthorised use of several musical works and sound recordings communicated to the public, deployed and exploited as marketing, promotional and advertising materials by First Bank Plc and contained in
Sights and Sounds of Carnival Calabar.
COSON pleaded in its 29 paragraph Statement of Claim that First Bank Plc did not apply for or secure a license or any authorization whatsoever before exploiting, communicating to the public, publishing and deploying the musical works and sound recordings of its members and assignors as included in, reproduced and contained in the Sights and Sounds of Carnival Calabar and deployed by First Bank Plc in its marketing, promotion and advertising.
In the words of COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, ‘Let it be heard loud and clear, that COSON is determined to sanitize the copyright environment in Nigeria. No one is too big or too small to abide by the law. A lot of young Nigerians are investing their talents, time and money in creating the music which is making Nigeria famous across the world and they deserve to be respected. For anyone to exploit their creative ingenuity, the person must get appropriate permission. If a musician takes a loan from a bank without paying back, the bank will chase the musician to the ends of the world to recover the loan. What right does a bank have to use the property of the musician without payment or authorization?’’
Also reacting on the development, COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, said, “Is it not hard to imagine why after being aware of the appropriate steps to take in the public communication of music, some people just find a way to kick against the law? Music is an investment and nobody treats lightly his investment. COSON will continue to ensure that the music industry in Nigeria is beneficial to all investors, foreign or local. We will see to it that the music pays no matter what tactics some music users may try to deploy in evading their obligations”.
Efforts to reach the spokesperson of First Bank Folake Ani-Mummuney for the bank’s side of the story proved abortive as a text message sent to her mobile phone with the number 080253391** was not replied.