By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU—MEMBERS of the Copyright Society of Nigeria COSON, have protested against the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami, accusing him of interference in a judicial process.
COSON members in a peaceful protest at the premises of the Enugu Federal High Court, yesterday, alleged that Malami engaged in a frightening new assault on the Judiciary and attempted to destroy the judicial system in the country.
The demonstrators who carried placards with such inscriptions as “who is afraid of Buba”, “leave Buba alone,” “someone should call Malami to order,” said the protest was in solidarity with the COSON chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji who this week began a one-man protest which has spread through Lagos to Abuja.
They alleged an arm twisting and blackmailing of a Federal High Court judge to be unable to deliver judgment as he deems fit, insisting that the protest will continue across the country until the development is curbed.
National Enforcement Officer of COSON, Prince Biodun Eguakhide recalled that on December 6, 2017, Justice Ibrahim Buba, a judge of the Federal High Court, stepped into his courtroom in Ikoyi, Lagos where he was scheduled to deliver an important judgment in a matter that has caused so much trouble in the Nigerian creative industry.
“Justice Buba did not deliver the judgment. A visibly angry Buba said that the previous evening, he received a petition against him from a party in the case, obviously trying to intimidate him. He announced that he would deliver the judgment on December 14.”
The judge reportedly did not eventually deliver the judgment disclosing that the case file had been taken from him.
Eguakhide said the key issue in the matter was whether the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria, MSCN, is authorized to collect money on behalf of Nigerian musicians or not.
Six officials of the MCSN alongside one Mayowa Ayilaran were at the time said to be facing criminal cases in court filed by the Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC.
Things reportedly took a crazy turn when in 2017, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami directed NCC to approve MSCN as a collecting society to collect royalties for the Nigerian Music Industry and to withdraw all cases filed by the commission against MSCN.
When it became obvious that the AGF would not address the issue after several meetings with COSON chairman Tony Okoroji, the body went to court for resolution.
“But today Justice Ibrahim Buba handling the case is being harassed, intimidated, blackmailed and forcefully prevented from delivering judgment in the matter.
“We are asking all the lawyers and judges in the Nigerian legal system to insist that the case file in Suit No: FHC/L/1259/2017 be returned to Justice Ibrahim Buba so that he can deliver judgment as he deems fit,” Eguakhide said.