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Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Limited/Gte v. Nigerian Copyright Commission

Federal High Court

Ruling Delivered on Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Citation: 56 NIPJD [FHC. 2013] 1163/2012
Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1163/12      Jurisdiction: Nigeria

Ruling delivered by Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa

Appearances: Yemi Salman (with him Olawale Adeogun) for the Applicants
O. Ezeilo (with him Linda Alphea, Adeola Adekoya) for the 1st – 4th Respondents.
O. Badewole (with G.P Ikie) for the 5th Respondent

BETWEEN:

MUSICAL COPYRIGHT SOCIETY OF NIGERIA LIMITED/GTE.
MR. HALIM MUHAMMED
MISS NJOKU GLADYS
MR. OLUKAYODE AJAYI
MISS OMOLARA BANJO
MR. YUSUF BENSO N
MR. LOUIS BASSEY UDOH
MR. MAYO AYILARAN………………………………………………………………………………………Applicants

And

NIGERIAN COPYRIGHT COMMISSION
DIRECTOR GENERAL, NIGERIAN COPYRIGHT COMMISSION
MR. AMODU AUGUSTINE ALEWU (Director, Nigerian Copyright Commission)
MR. MATHEW OJO
INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE………………………………………………………………………..Respondents

I. FACTS

On December 14, 2007, about 20 fully armed mobile policemen stormed the business premises of the 1st Applicant – Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN), without a search warrant. Two officials of the 1st Applicant were detained at the office of the 1st Respondent — Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) without an arrest warrant or order of court.  Upon a Motion on Notice dated October 3, 2012, the Applicants prayed for the following Orders:

a.  A DECLARATION that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Applicants are entitled to their rights to dignity of their persons, personal liberty and rights to move freely as guaranteed by Sections 34, 35 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and also by virtue of Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and People Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

b.  A DECLARATION that the existence and the activities of the 1st Applicant is guaranteed under Section 40 and 44 of the Constitution and 1st Applicant’s operation is legal and constitutional based on subsisting Order of the Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/35/08 delivered by JUSTICE A. ARCHIBONG reinforcing the Applicant’s rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

c.  A DECLARATION that 1st Applicant has the constitutional right under Section 44 of the Constitution to own and enjoy the copyrights and/or proprietary rights as guaranteed by the Constitution based on several deeds of assignments, contracts, licenses, powers of attorneys flowing from the original copyright owners to the Applicant.

d.  AN ORDER that the continued detention, harassment and intimidation, threat and torture of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Applicants by the Respondents is unlawful, unwarranted and in breach of the Applicants fundamental rights to dignity of their persons, personal liberty and rights to movement as protected by the Constitution.

e. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the Respondents whether by themselves, officers, agents, privies from further harassing, intimidating, detaining or further arresting the Respondents or any of its officers or agents in the course of performing their lawful and legal duties and administering their property rights.

f. AN ORDER directing the Respondents to immediately release the equipment, files, documents and all materials seized from the office of the Applicant by the Respondents.

g. AN ORDER of the Honourable Court awarding compensation for the Applicants and against the Respondents (jointly and severally) in the sum of N50,000,000 (fifty Million Naira) for unlawful disruption and interference in 1st Applicant’s lawful businesses.

h. AN ORDER of the Honourable Court awarding compensation in the sum of N50,000,000 (fifty Million Naira) for the Applicants and against the Respondents (jointly and severally) for threat to arrest, unlawful arrest, detention, intimidation and harassment of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Applicants.

i. And for such further or other Orders as the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.

II. JUDGEMENT

Delivering the judgement on March 18, 2013, Honourable Justice Yunusa of the Federal High Court, declared that the activities of the MCSN is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that the MCSN’s operations are legal and constitutional. The court awarded damages against the NCC for N50,000,000 (fifty Million Naira) for what it termed “unlawful disruption and interference” in the MCSN’s lawful business.


“IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

  1. That the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Applicants are entitled to their rights to dignity of their persons, personal liberty and rights to move freely as guaranteed by Sections 34, 35, and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and also by virtue of Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, CAP A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
  2. That the existence and the activities of the 1st Applicant is guaranteed under Section 40 and 44 of the Constitution and 1st Applicant’s operation is legal and constitutional based on subsisting Order of the Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/35/08 delivered by JUSTICE A. ARCHIBONG reinforcing the Applicant’s rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  3. That the 1st Applicant has the constitutional right under Section 44 of the Constitution to own and enjoy the copyrights and/or proprietary rights as guaranteed by the Constitution based on several deeds of assignments, contracts, licenses, powers of attorney following from the original copyright owners of the Applicant.
  4. That the continued detention, harassment and intimidation, threat and torture of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Applicants by the Respondents is unlawful, unwarranted and in breach of the Applicants fundamental rights to dignity of their persons, personal liberty and rights to movement as protected by the Constitution.
  5. That the Respondents are hereby directed to immediately release all the equipment, files, documents and all materials seized from the office of the Applicant by the Respondents.

 

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