True to the earlier warning sent to Lagos Lawyer, Ope Banwo in a letter dated May 5, 2017, lawyers to Chief Tony Okoroji and Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) have filed a Five Hundred Million Naira libel action against Mr. Banwo at the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja. The suit No Temp/30970/2017 filed on behalf of Chief Okoroji and COSON by Mr. Justin Ige of Creative Legal is supported by a 47 paragraph Statement of Claim and numerous attachments. Okoroji and COSON are also calling seven witnesses.
In the Statement of Claim, Chief Tony Okoroji and COSON pleaded that having not been invited and not being a member of COSON and not having any genuine business to do at COSON, Mr. Ope Banwo had on Friday 28 April 2017 stormed the offices of COSON then at 25 Omodara Street, Opebi Lagos and without seeking or obtaining the permission of COSON and with a smartphone began to live stream the images of the staff of COSON at work and the premises of COSON on the Internet accompanied by very vile, blatantly false, reckless and inciting statements and commentaries made by Mr. Banwo against Chief Okoroji and COSON which were clearly intended to engineer a revolt against Chief Okoroji and COSON by the members of COSON, stakeholders in the music industry, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the world at large.
Chief Okoroji and COSON also pleaded that in publishing and/ or causing to be published the false, reckless, obnoxious, wicked, sordid, unjustified, unwarranted and malicious words, Mr. Banwo had calculated that the wicked words, statements and innuendoes would have credibility and do the most devastating injury on the integrity and reputation of Okoroji and COSON since Banwo had craftily presented himself as a lawyer defending the interest of Nigerian musicians and the Nigerian music industry.
The former President of PMAN and COSON have asked the court for General and Aggravated damages in the sum of N500,000,000.00 (Five Hundred Million Naira) for injuries to the credit, character and reputation of the Claimants as a result of the unjustified, unwarranted, malicious, wicked, reckless and libelous publications made/and or caused to be made against the Claimants by Mr. Banwo.
They have also asked the court to order Mr. Ope Banwo to publish full page unreserved apology on Facebook, Vanguard, the Guardian, the Sun and the Punch Newspapers as a result of the unjustified, unwarranted, malicious, wicked, reckless, and libelous publications made/and or caused to be made against the Claimants by him.
Reacting to the development, COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji said, “we are not prepared to be a punching bag for any mischievous, misguided or attention seeking individual. At COSON, we are constantly reaching out to our members, the media, the government and the public at large to clarify our actions and operations and will continue to do so. We are a very professional, transparent and accountable organization, one of the very best in the continent. COSON is a Nigerian organization operating at world class standards. We serve the members of COSON and defend their interests with all our hearts and have absolutely nothing to hide.
“At COSON, we very much welcome fair criticism. What we will not tolerate is for any individual or group of persons to concoct, manufacture, fabricate or invent a tissue of lies and to deploy and spread those lies in an attempt to destroy our hard-earned reputation or the work we do on behalf of our members. If we have to go to court one hundred times to protect our name, we will do so. No one, no matter how powerful, popular or notorious, will be allowed to bring us down in order to bring attention to himself or to promote whatever cause he seeks. Let it be clear to one and all that in any such situation, COSON will react and we will react forcefully”