The Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) has called on the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to immediately revoke the operating license of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).
In a statement issued by PMAN and signed by its president, Pretty Okafor, the trade union accused COSON of deploying many tactics in a desperate attempt to frustrate the independent audit mandated by the NCC and other stakeholders, “while still operating and parading itself illegally as a licensed CMO.”
COSON has been entangled in crises in recent times with some stakeholders calling on its chairman, Tony Okoroji to step aside and pave way for external auditing of the collecting society.
“More than two years since the crisis ensued, COSON under Chief Tony Okoroji has thought it more pragmatic to launch expansive media/PR campaigns to either whitewash its fatally damaged image or attack individuals and institutions who demand probity.
“COSON has chosen the deployment of tens of millions of right holders’ royalties to fund countless, frivolous and vexatious lawsuits over compliance to the directives of its regulator. PMAN, as a founding pillar of COSON and key promoter of the interest of Nigerian musicians, has in time past called on Tony Okoroji to summon the courage to face the probe and allow the independent audit vindicate him and his fellow officers of the society,” Okafor explained.
According to the PMAN president, recent reports from auditing firm, KPMG revealed that COSON collected over N1.1 billion in royalty and licensing fees from users in 2017 but distributed only N225 million to holders, while over N800 million is unaccounted for.
“This is totally unacceptable,” he said. “PMAN is in possession of material evidence of COSON’s illegal payment requests from users of copyright works and will forward same to the relevant security agency, as well as demand the arrest and prosecution of all persons connected to the criminal conspiracy to operate without a valid license and the illegal diversion of right holders’ dues and royalties accrued from the usage of their musical works.
“To protect rights holders, the National Working Committee of PMAN hereby calls on the Nigerian Copyright Commission to immediately revoke COSON’s operating license. The Commission will do well also to remind all stakeholders that it remains a criminal offence to operate as a collective management organisation in Nigeria without a valid license.”
Meanwhile, the PMAN president is currently engaging all stakeholders in the music industry on how to deal with the aftermath of the revocation of COSON’s license.