READ What Pretty Okafor Is Saying On COSON Crisis And Okoroji’s Case Against Him

 

Mr. Pretty Okafor

Mr. Pretty Okafor

 

Mr. Pretty Okafor, in his capacity as the president of Performing Musicians Employers’ Association of Nigeria (PMAN), on Thursday, April 19 2018,  spoke to us on the festering crisis rocking Copyright Society Of Nigeria (COSON) to its foundation.

 

Why did it take PMAN this long to intervene in this crisis rocking COSON?

 

Ho! Thank you for that question. By the time it started in December, we did not know it will be this long and normally in my character, those that know me and work with me know that I will want to find out the real genesis of the issues at stake or brewing the crisis in order to proffer a quick or lasting solution. Fortunately, I was able to speak to both parties and they gave me their reasons for the crisis. And I demanded for documentation/evidences too.  I later followed up with Kenneth Echoha with a visit to COSON and the general manager Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji granted us audience and promised to send a report on the issue to us. But because maybe there were not respecting PMAN; they did not send the report/document as they promised. My exco wanted us to issue a press statement and I refused saying that it was too early to do that and it will look as if we are biased. Only Efe Omorogbe and co. did. February or so, we visited National Copyright Commission (NCC) for a meeting on the issue where they promised to turn in their decision on both parties’ statements on the issue which they also made made public on their website. In between these times, my exco was of the view that we were wasting time in taking decision or a stance and I told them, no. ‘let us give Okoroji and his people sometime.’

But while we were still waiting, a call came into my phone two weeks ago that ‘my attention is needed. That Tony arrested Efe.’ Then I tried to reach Efe himself by phone. He did not pick, which means that he was behind bar. Then I called Eddi Lawani who gave me his own version of the arrest story. I then called Nitehift Govnor whom they told me that time was at the station trying to help settle it and he told me that he will call me back. I waited all through the day until the next morning when I was called again and asked to provide my Cof O because a lot of them know that I have properties with C of O.  I now asked them C of O for what? They said Efe and Co. was charged to court and I asked them if it has gotten to that. That is when I said no matter what, that we cannot tolerate a situation whereby one of us will be intimidated or harassed. That was when Sunny Neji called an emergency meeting. And at the meeting, the whole of them said to me, ‘but President, we told you since February to issue a release on this issue, you said you are not going to go to the press with it.’ And I told them that I like to be fair on an issue, between man and God, I like to be fair on any issue I am involved in. It was then that I was given an ultimatum to go ahead and issue press release. By then we had gotten the report of Efe and Co., gotten report from the AGF, attorney general of the federation, we have gotten that of NCC and we have investigated their claims, travelled to Abuja and Benin in search of who was right or wrong. So our decision at the exco was that this same little mistake that happened in the past which led PMAN to what it is now is rearing its ugly head again. We thought that it wasn’t gonna be nice that COSON is drifting back to that past. Hence our stance.

 

You said you reached out to Efe. Reached out to Chinedu Chukwuji, CONSON general manager. Did you as a friend or on your official capacity as PMAN president, reach out to Chief Tony Okoroji, perhaps Chukwuji did not tell him of your mission when you visited?

 

Yes, as a personal friend, I called him several times with my phone and he did not take the calls or called back.

 

When was that?

 

I call him in December; two times in January, twice in February and he did not take them or called back. That was when I said that I am not going to call him again. That, maybe, he thought I was trying to tell him to do what he does not want to.

 

Before now, what was the relationship between PMAN and COSON?

 

To my knowledge and as far as I am concerned, the relationship was cordial. Even when PMAN was advocating for biometric identity card and we were told to buy a server, it was Okoroji that told us that if we hard told him before we bought the new server, he would have allowed us to use that of COSON instead of buying another one. That was how cordial our relationship was.

 

When did you come together with NCC to make sure that COSON abides by NCC’s directive?

 

We did not come to together with NCC. NCC is like the owner of CMOs, they license and regulate any company that wants to operate as a CMO. We are not together with NCC or part of NCC. Can any bank in Nigeria operate outside the rules put in place by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)? Or can CBN operate outside of Ministry of Finance’s regulation. The fact is that COSON cannot operate without NCC which lincensed it.

 

Don’t you think that Okoroji’s refusal to take your call was because of the running battle PMAN had with Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over his statement on creative industry which incidentally he made at COSON event?  

 

Yes he made it at COSON event and Okoroji amplified it. But he (Okoroji) has since apololised to me for his remarks on the issue. He did that when CityPeople gave him an award. Chinedu was there that day. He called me out and apologized.

 

He did that on stage?

 

No, not on stage.

 

Why do you think Okoroji singled you out for litigation?

 

I do not know but he is suing me as Mr. Pretty Okafor not as PMAN president because I signed a press release on behalf of PMAN. He knows that I do not have the letter head of PMAN in my custody. He should have sued PMAN executive and not Pretty Okafor. That is my grouse with him now.

 

What exactly is your demand now? Efe Omorogbe and his group are asking for forensic probe of COSON books and PMAN is adding to the claim by demanding electronic monitoring. What exactly are you asking for?

 

It goes together like this, Efe Omorogbe and other six removed directors alleged that Okoroji ‘stole’ money and that is why they are calling for external auditor to audit the book and Okoroji said no, ‘I did not’ steal money. And they are calling for a forensic probe to audit the account and to show that their allegation is true. If it is true, we will ask Okoroji not to go near COSON again, resign and find how you will return their money but if they are lying, we will call for their prosecution for assassination of someone’s character. But Okoroji is not ready for the probe.

As for electronic monitoring, it will enable all members of COSON to know when payment is made and how much is paid, how it was being spent and when. We are not saying he stole but Efe and his supporters are saying so and to prove their case they are calling for a forensic probe to prove their case. You know that these people who are now throwing accusation and counter accusation have been working together since seven years ago. But from the report I have seen dating back to two years back, COSON has been using more than the standard revenue it collected and the law of CMO all over the world, said it must not be more than

 

 

What is the standard amount?

The standard best practice is suppose to be 30 percent; but they are alleging, from what I saw in their document, that COSON has been using up to 45 percent.

 

 

Why do you think Okoroji singled you out for litigation?

 

I do not know but he is suing me as Mr. Pretty Okafor not as PMAN president because I signed a press release on behalf of PMAN. He knows that I do not have the letter head of PMAN in my custody. He should have sued PMAN executive and not Pretty Okafor. That is my grouse with him now.

He is suing me because I signed a release on t the stance of PMAN on the crisis, which I have a right to do and which I was asked to do. I cannot sign or issue such statement without the approval of the whole executive or members of the union. I do not have PMAN letter head in my custody which will enable me sign such pronouncement without the go ahead of the exco. So, rather than sue whoever is PMAN president, he is suing me on my personal capacity as Pretty Okafor and leaving out PMAN. I don’t think it will work. After all he claims to have been one of those who wrote PMAN constitution and should know that there is no way I can issue or sign a press statement without the approval of the exco.

 

What will be your reaction if Okoroji goes ahead to sue you?

 

I have seen the letter he did and what it means or he said, is that I am a fraudulent person. It is an assassination of character. That I stole PMAN’s letter headed paper to sign the announcement. I have referred the letter to my lawyer; he, maybe, at the end of the day, be the one to pay me the money he is demanding. He never mentioned PMAN in the letter and how can he sue me without mentioning PMAN?

 

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