Lagos - The Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria and seven others were on Tuesday charged before a Federal High Court in Lagos for unlawfully granting musical licences without the approval of the Nigeria Copyright Commission.
The others are Mayowa Ayilaran, the CEO of the society; Loius Udoh, Halim Mohammed, Omolara Banjo, Benson Yusuf, Olakayode Ajayi, and Gladys Njoku.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that defendants are facing three different charges.
The prosecutor, Mr Obi Ezeilo, told the court that the accused who carried on business at No 6, Olaribido St., Ikeja, Lagos, committed the alleged offence between April 2010 and 2012.
He said that the accused had without lawful approval from NCC, illegally engaged in the business of soliciting and granting licences to its clients on behalf of copyright owners.
Ezeilo said that the accused had also illegally performed the duties of a collecting society by demanding royalties from its clients, contrary to the Nigeria Copyright Act.
The prosecutor said that the clients included: Scarlet Lodge, located at No. 79, Younis Bashorun St., Victoria Island, Southern Sun, located at No. 47 Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi, and Blow Fish, located at No. 17, Ojun Olobun St., Victoria Island.
Ezeilo said that several letters of invitations had been sent to the accused to appear at the police station in answer to the complaint against them, but they had turned down such invitations and had carried on with their illegal activities.
He said that as a result of this deliberate refusal on the part of the accused, a charge was then preferred against the society and its officials.
According to the prosecutor, the offence contravened Section 39 (4), (5), and (6), of the Nigeria Copy Right Act, Cap C 26 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The accused each pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr Wale Adesokan, their counsel urged the court to grant his clients bail on very liberal terms as the offences they were charged with were bailable ones.
He argued that the accused were neither arrested nor issued any hearing notices to appear in court, but had personally taken it upon themselves to be present in court for their arraignment.
Objecting to the bail application, the prosecutor urged the court to refuse the accused persons bail on the ground that they had failed to honour the invitation of the police.
He, however, said that if bail was to be granted, it should be based on stringent conditions.
Ruling on the bail application, Justice Mohammed Yunusa said that by the provisions of Section 36 of the Constitution, ``an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.’’
``Bail is no doubt a constitutional right, and the records before this honourable court show that the accused are first offenders that possess no criminal record.
``It is on the basis of this, that I hereby admit the accused persons to bail in the sum of N1 million with two sureties each.
``The sureties must depose to an affidavit of means,’’ Yunusa ruled.
He thereafter adjourned the case to Feb. 19, 2013 for trial.