Members of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) staged a peaceful protest on Thursday at the gate of the Federal High Court at Murtala Mohammed Highway in Calabar, Cross River State capital as activities in the shutdown.
The protesters arrived the court as early as 7.30am on Thursday and waited till 8.50am when placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Malami must go, restore dignity to Federal High Court, take out Abdul Kafarat now, yes to a dignified high court, no to Kafarati as Chief Judge’ amongst others.
Addressing some Judiciary workers and lawyers, the National Enforcement Coordinator of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Prince Biodun Eguakhide said the group are protesting against muscling and arms twisting of Judiciary.
“We the members of copyright society of Nigeria (COSON) are today at the Federal High Court in solidarity with our Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji who this week began a one man protest which has spread through Lagos, Abuja to Enugu and now Calabar”.
He said the people also protested against what was a frightening new assault on the Nigerian Judiciary with the arm twisting and blackmailing of a Federal High Court Judge to be unable to deliver Judgment as he dims fit.
The group said that the protest will continue until the alarming development was curbed. “Copyright matters must be return to the right channels as provided for by the law of the federation”.
Explaining further, Eguakhide said, “Early in 2017, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, in a strange letter, directed the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to approve Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) as a collecting society to collect copyright royalties for the Nigerian music industry.
“At the NCC, they were mystified by what Mr Malami, a lawyer was asking them to do. The NCC replied Mr Malami giving him several reasons clearly showing that what he was asking the commission to do was dangerous and unlawful”.
He said the NCC objections did not stop the AGF. “In a strongly worded letter dated 22nd March 2017, Mr Malami ordered the NCC, despite the strong protestations, not only to immediately licence MCSN but to withdraw every case filed by the commission against MCSN including the seven criminal cases at the federal high court before Justice Mojisola Olateregun Ishola, Justice Babatunde Kwewumi and Justice Abdulazeez Anka”.
He explained that the AGF has the power to file a Nolle Prosequi to stop any case. In this case, the AGF did not file a Nolle. He ordered the NCC to abruptly withdraw the cases. “When it became obvious that despite his promise, the AGF would never address the problem, we took the issues to the Federal High Court for a resolution.
“Justice Ibrahim Buba before whom the case was is being harassed, intimated and blackmailed. He is being forcefully prevented from delivering judgment in the matter. We thought that we would never see this kind of day in our fatherland when the rule of law is so when the rule of law is so violently assaulted.
“The courts were supposed to be the last refuge of the common man. We are startled by the precedent being set: a judge being arm-twisted so that he does not deliver judgment in a case as he deems fit absolutely crazy”, adding that the protest will continue until common man get justice in Nigeria.