For thousands of members of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and hundreds of staff of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, Thursday December 6, 2018 was a day of celebration as news broke that the tenure of the very controversial Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, Mr. Afam Ezekude had come to an abrupt end.
Ezekude who for several months was locked out of his Federal Secretariat Abuja office by the protesting staff of his commission on allegations of massive corruption and poor leadership was forced to leave as a result of a Federal government directive.
At COSON House in Ikeja, the headquarters of the continent’s most progressive copyright collective management organization, the news was received with significant cheers and prayers that the Nigerian creative industry not witness the likes of Afam Ezekude again.
Many COSON members condemned Mr. Afam Ezekude who they claim spent a good part of his tenure creating confusion, degrading the NCC and acting as a sworn adversary of COSON which has witnessed tremendous growth despite Ezekude’s antagonism, meddling and harassment.
Reacting to Ezekude’s departure from the NCC, COSON Board member and immediate past President of the powerful Music Label Owners and Recording Industries Association of Nigeria (MORAN), Hon John Ewelukwa Udegbunam, said, “Afam Ezekude allowed himself to be misled. He showed very poor judgment in his decision to engage in the unproductive fight against COSON. He should have understood that COSON has become a popular mass movement from which musicians across the country benefit. His most shameful act, in my opinion, was his vigorous and ultimately failed attempt to suspend the ability of COSON to collect royalties on behalf of Nigerian musicians. The other, is what I consider, his ill-advised trumped up criminal charge against COSON and the Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, easily, Nigeria’s most consistent and most widely respected campaigner for the respect of the rights of creative people whose unrelenting campaign led to the setting up of the NCC itself. I hope Ezekude’s successors have learnt a lesson and will quickly make peace with COSON. Is it not instructive that Afam Ezekude is gone and Chief Tony Okoroji remains the Chairman of COSON?
Ace drummer, Richard Cole, another member of the COSON Board in reaction said, “the fact that Ezekude is gone should not end the investigations into the alleged enormous corruption against him. People in the creative industry want to know what happened to the millions of Naira invested by the Federal Government in the NCC which Ezekude left broke and practically comatose. About seven Federal Government DGs have visited COSON House. Ministers, NCCs first DG, first Chairman and stars from around the world have been hosted at COSON House. Is it not stupid that not once did Afam Ezekude step into COSON House built and commissioned during his tenure and which he could have claimed as part of his success. His attempt to promote a new Copyright Act failed like a pack of cards. He was being egged on by paper weights in the industry. He followed them and ended his tenure in unending crisis”.