Members of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) who have since January 15, 2018 been protesting at different Federal High Court locations across Nigeria have called for the resignation of the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati, for his role in what COSON has called “a frightening new assault on the Nigerian judiciary and an attempt to turn the Nigeria music industry into a gold mine belonging to no one, from where those who have made no investments nor contributions to the industry can cart away illicit billions of Naira while the true creators and investors in the industry languish in penury.”
Addressing a press conference at COSON House in Ikeja on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, Chairman of COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji, on behalf of the society said that it was the position of COSON that Justice Abdul Kafarati should not be confirmed as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court. According to Okoroji, “it is clear to any serious observer that the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati, is being played like a tambourine and has become the turntable through which much of this very bad music is coming out of the Federal High Court, an important national institution. Justice Kafarati is not in control. If all these can happen while he is in an acting capacity, what will happen if he is made the substantive Chief Judge?”
Stressing the resolve of COSON, Okoroji said, “We will continue to protest until the arm twisting and blackmailing of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos is brought to an end, the Federal High Court of Nigeria is left free to do justice to all men as the judges deem fit and the Attorney–General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami is stopped from further meddling in the affairs of the Nigerian music industry.
“We will deploy our voices, drums, cymbals, trumpets, guitars and every other musical instrument available to us and we will employ our talents in our protest until the whole world hears us. We will continue this indefinite protest until the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) is returned to the supervision of the minister charged with responsibility for culture as expressly provided in Section 51 of the Nigerian Copyright Act.”
Decrying the recent award of the sum of almost N6 billion against Mutichoice Nigeria to the group known as Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) which is facing seven pending criminal cases at the Federal High Court and which the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami ordered the Nigerian Copyright Commission to approve in 2017, despite the protest of the NCC, Okoroji said that the development was bizarre because at the time the purported infringement took place, MCSN was not an approved collecting society and that there is a plethora of Court of Appeal decisions stating that without approval, MCSN cannot collect royalties in Nigeria.