Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Nigeria’s biggest copyright collective management organization, has for the third time in the last four years floored First Bank of Nigeria in court. In a lead judgment delivered on March 27, 2024 on behalf of a three-man panel of the Appellate Court by Hon Justice Danlami Zama Senchi, the Court of Appeal set aside the Ruling of Justice C.J. Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, read on the 7th of April 2022 to the effect that COSON lacked the Locus Standi to challenge the restriction placed by First Bank on the accounts of COSON at the bank, which restrictions were placed without any court order whatsoever.

COSON had claimed that the restriction is illegal, unlawful, null and void and had asked the Federal High Court to award damages against First Bank for the injuries suffered by the society as a result of the actions of the bank.

First Bank in reaction filed a Preliminary Objection arguing that COSON lacked the legal capacity and competence to commence/maintain the suit as a collecting society without the consent of the Nigerian Copyright Commission.

Justice Aneke, in his ruling of 7th April 2022 agreed with First Bank and stated thus: “The Plaintiff/Respondent having failed to show that it obtained the prior approval of the Nigerian Copyright Commission as its Statutory Regulator in instituting the instant suit, I find and hold that the Defendant/Applicant’s Notice of Preliminary Objection is meritorious and same is hereby accordingly upheld. The Plaintiff/Respondent’s suit is hereby struck out for incompetence”.

Dissatisfied with the Ruling of Justice Aneke, COSON filed APPEAL NO CA/LAG/CV/440/22 at the Court of Appeal Lagos.

In its judgement, the Court pf Appeal set aside the decisions of Hon. Justice C.J. Aneke delivered on Thursday, the 7st of April 2022 and directed the Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to re-assign SUIT No: FHC/L/CS/2118/2019 to another judge of the Court for trial and determination and also ordered that the matter be given accelerated hearing. Following the Court of Appeal judgment, there was singing and dancing at COSON House in Ikeja.

It will be recalled that on May 14, 2019, First Bank was defeated by COSON in an interpleader action No. 1D/562/GCMW/18 filed by the bank at the High Court of Lagos State in Ikeja. Another action, No FHC/L/CS/819/19 filed by the bank against COSON at the Federal High Court, Lagos was also dismissed on October 31, 2019,

Reacting to the latest defeat of First Bank by COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji, Chairman of the COSON Board, said, “On behalf of the members of COSON, I once again thank the Almighty for His continued protection of COSON from the gang-up of all those who had conspired to kill this unrivalled Nigerian creative industry institution of which the members are very proud. They have fired from the east and failed. They fired from the west and failed woefully. From every corner they fire, they fail. They fail because our hands are clean. Many of those who believed that they would use their power in government to destroy COSON have lost their positions and may have come to the realization that ultimate power belongs to the Almighty. I want to thank those Justices in our Courts who insist on doing justice. May the Almighty continue to guide and protect them.

COSON was represented in all the cases against First Bank by Barrister James Ononiwu of Whitedove Solicitors.


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