Thursday 24 January 2019

Chijioke Ifeoma Okorie

A trip around Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and its governance issues

Afroleopa has been rather busy of late, but is still very committed to fulfilling her promise to keep readers abreast of events in COSONIA. So, here is a miscellany with a brief round-up of the current events and issues.

Account frozen but spending continues
Afroleopa has heard that despite the freezing order, it appears to be that COSON continues to have access to its bank accounts as the Okoroji-led Board continues to disburse funds for its expenses.

Some corporate members of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) approached the court and claim to have secured an order freezing the accounts of COSON. This is in a bid to stop the allegedly ousted Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji and his board members from spending the society’s monies while the suspension of COSON licence remains in place. Afroleopa had wondered about the possibility of the Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) procuring a freezing order on COSON’s bank accounts in order to lend (more) efficacy to its suspension order.

Extra-ordinary General Meeting held
Back in November 2018, COSON announced that it would be holding an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) in December 2018. Special resolution proposed to be passed the meeting were to distribute the sum of N81,520,000 (approximately $224,000) amongst members and to ratify  “legal and security measures taken by the Board and Management in the last one year to protect the society from instability and disintegration”.

If COSON’s tweets are anything to go by, the meeting held as scheduled and the proposed resolutions were passed despite calls that the meeting was illegal given the suspension of COSON’s licence.

No revocation of license despite fears
Back in June 2018, AfroLeopa attended a press conference co-convened by the president of the Association of Music Business Professionals (AM.B-Pro), Mr. Edi Lawani under the auspices of Concerned Stakeholders’ Forum. The majority of the music artists and COSON members, who spoke at the event, expressed fears that the suspension of COSON’s licence may be commuted to a revocation based on Regulation 20 of the CMO Regulations. Regulation 20 (2) of the CMO Regulations stipulates that a suspension order from the NCC may be commuted to a revocation of licence if the collecting society fails to comply with the directives that led to its suspension in the first place.  

COSON’s license has not been revoked.

New Director-General appointed for the Nigerian Copyright Commission
Last week, newspapers reported that Mr. John Asein has been appointed the Director-general of the NCC. Prior to his appointment, Mr Asein was the director of the Nigerian Copyright Institute, the training and capacity building arm of the NCC. He takes over from the previous Director-General, Mr. Afam Ezekude.

With a change in leadership of the NCC, there may be a change in direction towards ensuring adherence to good corporate governance principles within COSON and in other collecting societies in Nigeria. Mr. Asein will be the first in-house Director-General at the NCC in decades.

Some thoughts
It seems to Afroleopa that the NCC’s regulation of COSON lacks compellability. COSON has repeatedly flouted NCC’s orders with no apparent consequence. As Afroleopa has repeatedly stated on this blog, this affects not only COSON; it also affects its members, other collecting societies and the general copyright community. A situation where a sector regulatory authority cannot compel compliance from regulated entities cannot bode well for the sector.
Scouting collecting societies...

Just last week, the Federal Government unveiled the Corporate Governance Code applicable to all public companies. This would include collecting societies where they are public companies. The Code notes that several industry regulators such as the Nigerian Communications Commission (for telecommunication sector), the Central Bank of Nigeria (for the banking sector), and the National Insurance Commission (for the insurance sector) had developed corporate governance codes for companies operating in their sectors, in response to challenges in their respective sectors. The Code further states that the Financial Reporting Council will monitor implementation through the sector regulators.

In the circumstances, it would be helpful for the NCC to be primed to ensure the implementation of the Code by collecting societies. Also, the NCC may either develop an appropriate code of corporate governance for collecting societies or formally adopt the Code of Corporate Governance unveiled by the Federal Government.

Chijioke Ifeoma Okorie

Chijioke Ifeoma Okorie

Subscribe via email (you'll be added to our Google Group)


Write comments
11 June 2019 at 19:13 delete

I currently have a client being sued by COSON for levies and penalties. Is it safe to assume that COSON has no locus standi to pursue this case? Thank you.