By Benjamin Njoku
Since the purported removal of Chief Tony Okoroji as the Chairman of COSON, last December, the Copyright Society of Nigeria has known no peace again. And there are indications that if urgent steps are not taken to nip the evil in the mud, the lingering leadership crisis may cripple the once active collecting society.
At the moment, the crisis is not getting close to an end as the war keeps raging on daily basis.
Recall that the crisis was triggered by the action of six Board members of the society who met on December 7, 2017, and moved a motion to remove Chief Tony Okoroji as the chairman of the society.
He was replaced by an artiste and events manager, Efe Omorogbe. This move, however, generated a lot of mixed-feelings among the members , leading to the Extra- Ordinary General Meeting of the society held in COSON Arena on December 19, 2017. At the meeting, Okoroji was restored as Chairman of the society,days after he was asked to step aside by the organization’s board.
But despite this new development, Omorogbe-led faction maintained their grounds that Okoroji remained sacked as COSON Chairman. However, in the midst of the crisis, the Nigerian Copyright Commission,NCC, voided the return of Tony Okoroji as chairman of COSON. The regulatory body, while wading into the matter insisted that it would act within its oversight function to examine the books of COSON and advise as appropriate.
Meanwhile, angered with what he calls, “undue interference in the Internal Affairs of Copyright Society of Nigeria,COSON, by NCC”, veteran highlife musician, Sir Victor Uwaifo who chaired the meeting that restored Tony Okorji wrote to the Director General of NCC, condemning the commission’s attempt to give instructions to COSON, “as if it’s a department under your Commission.”
In his letter, Uwaifo said “I read with utmost disgust your letter to COSON widely published on the internet in which you attempted to give instructions to COSON, an independent private sector organization, as if COSON is a department under your Commission.”
Uwaifo maintained that the removal of Okoroji was an attempt to hijack COSON at a critical period in its history and destroy the fledgling organization, the same way PMAN was destroyed. “Absolutely, the interest of these six individuals cannot override that of the thousands of COSON members , affiliated and foreign reciprocal partners who are overwhelming impressed and satisfied with the incredible personal sacrifice and leadership of Chief Tony Okoroji…” Uwaifo said.
However, in a renewed battle to take over the leadership of COSON, Omorogbe-led faction on Tuesday, hit a brick wall after they were prevented from holding an emergence Board meeting at COSON House, in Ikeja. The Board members made up of Efe Omorogbe, Dare Fasasi, Obi Asika, Joel Ajayi, Sikiru Agboola represented by Oby Egbe and Audu Maikori who was represented by Seyi Lawal, held their meeting in front of the COSON office, after they were prevented from accessing the building.
In a statement released after the meeting,which was witnessed by NCC representatives led by Mr. Obi Ezeilo, director and head of Lagos Zonal Office, Omorogbe-led faction made a number of resolutions, including the disengagement of White Dove Solicitors as COSON lawyers and the withdrawal of COSON as a plaintiff in the preparatory suit of which Efe Omorogbe was notified via advance copy.
The board also adopted a resolution for the immediate suspension Mr. Chinedu Chukwudi as General Manager of COSON and appointment of Bernice Eremieghe to act as general manager until further notice. Other resolutions included the changing of the signatories to the COSON account, the initiation of a full forensic audit of COSON account from January 2015 to December 2017 and consultations with the COSON lawyers, the NCC and MCSN before the adoption of a position on the court judgement.
It was the first official meeting held by Omorogbe-led faction of COSON. But these resolutions by Omorogbe-led faction seems to hold no water as the management staff of COSON, have continued to pledge their allegiance to the Chairman and members of COSON. In a statement, explaining the Omorogbe-led faction was denied access to the COSON office, Mr. Chibueze Okereke, Head, Corporate Affairs, COSON, said, “the action was taken ‘in stout defence of the society.”