The rift between the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) and the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) deepened during the week with the rank of musicians being polarised over all alleged raid of executive members of COSON on Wednesday.
Amidst the confusion, PMAN had warned the public against any further dealings COSON, claiming that the body is illegal without any operating licence.
PMAN sounded the note of warning in a statement signed by its General Secretary Aita Bonny and made available to TCN.
According to the association, COSON is a “proscribed entitiy” which ceased to exist when its operating licence was revoked by the Nigerian Copyright Commission in 2018.
The statement partly read: “In line with its Copyright enforcement drive, PMAN led a team of detectives dispatched from the Federal Criminal Investigation Department(FCID) Force Headquarters, Abuja to conduct a raid on the proscribed entity, formally known as The Copyright Society of Nigeria(COSON), whose CMO operating licence was suspended by the NCC in 2018 due to its inability to account for Royalties collected on behalf of Musicians and Right owners.
“The FCID team executed the arrest warrant promptly around 10am on Wednesday 17th of March, 2021 at the Coson House and effectuated the immediate arrest of all COSON management team, including the General Manager, one Mrs Bernice Eriemeghe, who fainted in police custody due to the weight of the charges preferred against her.”
The statement added that “all the suspects will be charged to court to answer to the charges preferred against them, including COSON’s Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, who is currently evading arrest.”
It also quoted PMAN’s President as saying, “All COSON’s bank accounts have been frozen to stop any further illegal withdrawal of funds by COSON management and accountants.”
PMAN, however, urged any user of copyright works that seeks clarifications in regards to the CMO to obtain licence from should act in line with the NBC code by contacting the regulator, NCC, for clarification.
Meanwhile, in a swift reaction to PMAN’s statement, COSON has described the petition filed against it as “filled with lies, jumbled facts and twisted logic”.
COSON’s General Manager, Bernice Eriemeghe, wrote on Instagram: “To say that I fainted at sighting the juvenile petition is a big joke and a fat lie. For the avoidance of doubt, not even one member of my staff was arrested by the police and work did not stop at COSON House for one minute.”
Recall that TCN reported that a Lagos State High Court had in June 2020 ordered the self-affirmed President of PMAN, Pretty Okafor to pay a sum of ₦2 million in damages to the Chairman of COSON, Tony Okoroji, for defamation of character.
Okoroji had said at the time that that the problems with PMAN begun when the COSON House was commissioned in Ikeja in 2017, claiming that “they want to hijack COSON, which we built for the good of the thousands in the music industry and turn it into their personal ATM and destroy it the same way they destroyed PMAN which I also helped to build.”