Court Dismisses Human Rights Suit Filed Against Nigerian Copyright Commission


October 1, 2016 — The Federal High Court, Lagos presided by Justice Mohammed Idris has struck out a fundamental human rights suit filed against the Nigerian Copyright Commission by one Mr. Oben Chima Okorie, an Alaba market music producer and distributor.

The Nigerian Copyright Commission arrested Oben Okorie during its investigation into a petition made against him for illegal reproduction of a music album titled “Power from Above”  whose copyright belongs to one Prince Dan Ofunne.

Upon being arrested, Oben Okorie through his lawyer instituted a court action with Suit No. FHC/L/CS/639/16 against the Commission alleging that his arrest and detention were illegal. Upon receipt of the court processes, the commission through its counsel, Mr. Lawrence Nnoli faulted the said allegation of illegal arrest and detention in his reply to the suit. He argued that Section 38 of the Copyright Act gives unfettered power of arrest to copyright Inspectors over anybody who they reasonably believe to have committed any offence under the Copyright Act and that although Oben Okorie was arrested and detained, he was subsequently given bail as required by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

The matter  saw the non-appearance of Oben Okorie and his lawyer in court. Reacting to the non appearance of Oben Okorie and his lawyer in court, the Commission’s lawyer, Mr. Lawrence Nnoli urge the court to strike out the suit. The court agreeing with the oral submissions made by the Commission’s lawyer, struck out the suit for want of diligent prosecution.

In the meantime, the Commission has filed a criminal charge with charge number FHC/L/391C/16 at the Federal High Court, Lagos against Oben Okorie and his company, OBEN Entertainment Limited for illegal reproduction of musical works belonging to Prince Dan Ofunne. The new case is yet to be assigned to a judge.

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