An Ikeja High Court Judge, Justice Y.R. Pinheiro has this Tuesday, May 14, 2019, struck out the Interpleader Action brought by First Bank (Nig.) Ltd against COSON over the freezing of the bank accounts of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) by First Bank. By the decision of the court, COSON has regained full access to all its funds at First Bank. COSON’s counsel, Mr. James Ononiwu of the Whitedove Solicitors had applied to the court to strike out the Interpleader action of First Bank saying that the bank did not disclose any cause of action in the suit and that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
In her judgment, the learned trial judge agreed with Mr. Ononiwu that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter as no real dispute between the officers of COSON had been established by First bank. She discountenanced the counter affidavit of the Nigerian Copyright Commission stating that her court had no jurisdiction to entertain the issues of copyright brought by the NCC.
In opposing the First Bank summons, the General Manager of COSON, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji in his affidavit stated that COSON is a private company limited by guarantee and not a government agency and that First Bank without any lawful order of court froze the accounts of COSON purportedly as a result of a letter from the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) when the bank knows that the NCC is not a court of law and does not have any powers under the law to give any directives to freeze the accounts of COSON and that the NCC is not in a position to determine who the signatories to the bank accounts of COSON should be.
There was wild jubilation at COSON House in Ikeja following the judgment. Celebrating the judgment, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji who was in court when the judgment was read said, “At COSON, we are taking the Nigerian nation through an important civics lesson. The fulcrum of that lesson is that in a democracy, no one, no matter how big, is above the law, whether you are Frist Bank, NCC or whatever else. I know that before now many people had made many assumptions not backed by facts or by the law. We are patiently using the courts to define the truth. The courts are answering the questions.
“Those who know me well know that I am a great believer in the rule of law and the legal system. COSON was built on the foundation of the rule of law. I firmly believe that the recent legal developments will make the powers of everyone clearer and our industry more professional and stable. I call on COSON members wherever they are to celebrate. The victory is yours. I am confident that the decision places us in a better position to generate more solid income for the practitioners and the nation for many years to come. It takes a lot of patience to do what we are doing. I am humbled to be part of this process”.