As COSON bleeds to death…
On March 6, 2018 after receiving the NCC’s directive that voided the resolutions purportedly reinstating Okoroji and duly notifying all directors, Efe Omorogbe convened a COSON board meeting.
In attendance were Joel Ajayi, Data Fasasi, Obi Asika, Audu Maikori (represented), Sikiru Agboola (represented), Efe Omorogbe and Obi Ezeilo (for NCC).
The COSON House was locked so the directors sat outside the main entrance, conducted the business of the day, adjourned and left.
Days letter, Efe Omorogbe and Joel Ajayi were arrested for “disruption of Tony Okoroji’s meeting, breech of public peace and threat to life”. The Nigerian Police, AIG Zone 2, overrode the Lagos State Police Command, conducted “their Houdini investigation” and charged them to court.
More than one year later, the prosecution is still struggling to articulate its case. At the last hearing on April 10, 2019, they sought adjournment to “amend the charges” they hastily filed in April 2018.
The most damaging angle came to light on Monday, May 20, 2019 when at the clandestinely convened AGM, Okoroji announced a N31,000,000.00 expenditure on “office security”, a line item that cost the society N1,000,000.00 the previous year.
Another N34,000,000.00 plus had been spent on lawsuits mainly against members and the regulator over the chairmanship palaver.
COSON had also collected about N200,000,000.00 less in licensing fees compared to the previous year bringing the cost of the crisis (which is basically down to Okoroji’s intransigence and desperate bid to hold on to the reins while dodging independent audit) to about N250,000,000.00.
Another worrisome development is the fact that at the meeting held on the very day that the COSON licence expired, the licence matter was absent on the agenda and not a single director or member present raised a question.
It becomes crystal clear why the AGM was convened in secret and only complicit “directors”, hungry loyalists and “mumu-members” were invited.
While a large number of members and stakeholders and state institutions watch in “criminal silence”, Okoroji appears to be taking the rape of COSON and decimation of the gains of collective management in Nigeria to the next level.
The two official press statements issued after the AGM stated boldly that Okoroji has arranged for himself another tenure as director and chairman, and that he intends to operate COSON as a renegade organisation outside the ambit of regulation.
Will he be allowed to operate COSON without approval?
For a society that refused to comply with the regulator’ s directives and members’ wide call for independent audit, can COSON, under Okoroji, be trusted to be accountable to rights owners?
If Okoroji is not immediately reined in and his key accomplices – Koffi, Shina Peters, Azeezat, KSB, John Uduegbunam, Chinedu Chukwuji, Bernice Eremieghe, Biodun Eghuakhide – held accountable for their damaging actions against COSON, what will be the future of collective management of Copyright in Nigeria?