Audu Maikori, a director on the board of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), has urged Tony Okoroji to let go of power to avoid being “disgraced” like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
For the past few months, there has been a power tussle at COSON, with Okoroji and Efe Omorogbe laying claim to the leadership of the body.
The confusion started after an impromptu meeting of COSON on December 7, 2017, declared Omoregbe as Okoroji’s successor.
The former chairman was replaced over allegations of impropriety.
It was alleged that he collects 10% commission on licensing income deemed to have been brought in by him and primarily, because he contracts COSON projects and events to his company, TOPS Limited.
Despite Omorogbe’s election, Okoroji was reinstated as the chairman at an extraordinary general meeting of COSON held on December 19.
A faction of the board loyal to Okoroji reinstated him and sacked those who voted for Omorogbe.
Commenting on the crisis, Maikori in a statement made available to newsmen urged Okoroji to withdraw from the tussle and take on a fatherly role in COSON rather than fighting Omoregbe, who was recently arrested by the police on allegations of forgery.
“Okoroji had previously won the respect of many people in the music industry over the years- sadly it may seem that the adulation he once enjoyed has gotten into his head such that he now believes he is above the law and that the laws don’t apply to him anymore,” Maikori said.
“If I were Tony Okoroji, I would simply have resigned in the face of these grave allegations for the sake of COSON. Instead, Tony has utilized COSON funds to wage a media war against Efe Omoregbe and the board members that voted him out of office. The funny thing about his misdirected campaign is that Efe Omoregbe was unwilling to take the position of Chairman of COSON- it was the repeated pressure from many songwriters, artists, and labels that led to him reluctantly accepting to chair COSON. The fight over the leadership of COSON is to ensure we can build a world-class Collection society that matches up with the potentials of such an important copyrights market like Nigeria.
“If Chief Okoroji believes that he is the only man in Nigeria that can successfully chair COSON, then he should simply comply with the NCC directive and wait for the next AGM and recontest.
“We saw what happened to Robert Mugabe, who clung unto power desperately until he was disgraced out of office. This is the plight of Chief Tony Okoroji who one expects should be playing a fatherly and advisory role in the music industry, instead, he is busy fighting with Efe Omoregbe a man he is old enough to father, all in a bid to hold on to something that he erroneously believes is his birthright.”
The Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), the organisation that regulates the affairs of COSON, had asked the body to revert to status quo in a memo dated February 9.
The memo was signed by Afam Ezekude, director-general of NCC. It was addressed to Okoroji and Omoregbe.
The NCC demanded a probe of the events at the December 19, 2017 meeting and “declared the purported actions as illegal, null and void”, directing the board to return to the status quo as at December 7.