Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, may have run out of patience with the delay tactics of mobile telecommunications firm MTN Nigeria to respond to the ongoing alleged copyright infringement battle between the company and an Abuja-based music artiste, Omenuwoma Okson Dovie, popularly called Baba 2010.
The NCC has therefore sent a strongly worded letter of invitation to the Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Mr. Michael Ikpoki, demanding his appearance before a panel on Monday, September 28 at the NCC headquarters, Abuja.
The letter, NCC/ADM/90/S/1/225 and signed by A.T Kohol, Director of Prosecution, said the invitation was “Pursuant to section 34 and 38 (5) of the NCC Act” was dated September 16.
Kohol reminded Ikpoki that the NCC “is a Federal government agency created with the powers to administer and regulate copyright as stipulated under the Copyright Act, CAP 28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004”
To purpose of the invitation, Kohol said is for Ikpoki to “be examined in an investigation of criminal violation of copyright in musical works of Mr. Omenuwoma Okson Dovie which you used as caller ring back tones”
Kohol directed Ikpoki to bring all necessary documents that will assist “in the criminal investigation” including the company’s ‘call logs’.
This move may not be unconnected to MTN’s failure to attend the first meeting called by the commission last week.
But days after the first meeting, Obiageli Maduka, the company’s Commercial Legal Advisor wrote to the lawyers of Baba 2010, lawyers of Baba 2010 Igelige & Associates, an Abuja and Delta State based law firm “to delay further action” to enable MTN “revert to you our findings.”
The letter was dated August 25.
Maduka said that MTN would “respond to you as soon as possible.” The Commercial Legal Advisor assured in the letter titled: “Re: Alleged Infringement of Copy Right of Omenuwoma Okson Dovie” that “further investigations” are being carried out on the matter. “We have noticed the claims in your letter and are currently conducting further investigations into the matter.”
But MTN since then had neither called back at the NCC nor even reached out to the aggrieved artiste’s lawyers.
Baba 2010 is threatening to sue MTN to court over alleged unauthorised use of his songs as Caller Tunes.
In a letter dated August 6 and signed by Rockson. A Igelige of Felix, Igelige & Associates, lawyers of Baba 2010 and addressed to Mr. Michael Ikpoki, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria Limited, the artiste is demanding a N500, 000, 000 compensation for the alleged violation of copyright to four of his original musical compositions and recordings, including infringement of his moral rights in one of the compositions.
“For about three years or more, MTN has been selling four songs, to wit ‘Gentleman,’ ‘Omotena,’ ‘Twisted,’ and ‘Unity Song,’ all original compositions of Baba 2010 contained in his Compact Disc album entitled ‘Twisted’, released in 2005, in the form of caller tunes and, or, ringtones to its subscribers. The songs are respectively coded 001087 (“Gentleman”), 001088 (“Omotena”), 001089 (“Twisted”), and 001090 (“Unity Song”), stored electronically, reproduced and offered to MTN’s subscribers upon the payment of N50 each for one month, subject to another N50 monthly renewal charge.
The musical works can also be downloaded, on the specified terms, onto a subscriber’s mobile phone by sending the relevant code to the number 4100 designated for the purpose by MTN,” the letter read.
Consequent upon that, copyright owner Baba 2010 has demanded that MTN rectify this infringement by taking the following steps: “That MTN cease and desist forthwith from further infringing on his copyright to the aforementioned musical works; that MTN pay to him the sum of N500,000,000 (five hundred million naira) for the unauthorised commercial and also derogatory use of his musical work; That MTN enter into an agreement/contract with him for future use of his copyrighted musical works. That MTN take immediate steps to restore the proper title of the work originally named “Buy Africa” (code 001090) but which MTN misnamed and is selling to its subscribers as “Unity Song,” thereby derogating from the original work of that title.”
This will not be the first time MTN is embroiled in an alleged copyright infringement issue with a Nigerian artiste. Some couple of years ago, two popular artistes, Father U-Turn and Beautiful Nubia were outraged with the telecommunications firm over alleged unauthorised use of their works as Caller Tunes.
In 2013, Afro hiphop star Paul Play Dairo locked horns with MTN over alleged unauthorised use of his hit song, ‘Angel of my Life’ as a Caller Tune.

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