Copyright infringement: MTN petition succeeds as Courtroom permits AGF to takeover NCC’s case in opposition to CEO, Karl Toriola


Story Highlights

  • The Federal Excessive Courtroom in Abuja has permitted the Legal professional Normal of the Federation (AGF) to imagine management of a copyright infringement case involving MTN Nigeria Communications Restricted and its CEO, Karl Toriola.
  • The case, initiated by the Nigerian Copyright Fee (NCC), alleges the unauthorized use of soundtracks as callback ringtones by MTN with out the consent of the unique homeowners.
  • MTN filed a petition to the AGF requesting a takeover of the case, arguing that it was geared toward unfairly concentrating on and harming the corporate’s status and {financial} stability.

The Federal Excessive Courtroom Abuja on Monday has allowed the Workplace of the Legal professional Normal of the federation to take over and evaluate an alleged copyright infringement case in opposition to MTN Nigeria Communications Restricted and its CEO, Karl Toriola primarily based on a petition from the latter.

Nairametrics beforehand reported that MTN Nigeria Communications Restricted had requested the courtroom to strike out the case instituted in opposition to it by the Nigerian Copyright Fee (NCC) for allegedly being faulty.

The case, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/111/2024, was filed by the NCC in opposition to MTN Nigeria Communications Restricted; Karl Toriola, Chief Government Officer of MTN Nigeria; Nkeakam Abhulimen; Enjoyable Cell Restricted; and Yahaya Maibe.

The case was adjourned a number of instances following the non-appearance of the MTN CEO and others, who had been scheduled to be arraigned and take their plea.

NCC’s Case and MTN’s response

The NCC had alleged that MTN and others used a number of soundtracks as callback ringtones with out the consent and authorization of the unique homeowners.

A workers member of the NCC, Samuel Y. Udowo, additionally deposed earlier than the courtroom that the Fee investigated a criticism of legal copyright infringement in opposition to the defendants arising from acts that embrace the utilization of the musical works/sound recordings of Maleke Idowu Moye as Caller Ring Again Tunes with out his consent and authorization.

He added that the investigation revealed that the defendants had certainly dedicated some copyright offenses, requiring some type of penalties.

However MTN’s lawyer, Obafemi Agaba filed a movement in opposition to NCC, asking the courtroom to say no jurisdiction on the matter.

MTN recordsdata petition to OAGF

Whereas the NCC case was pending, Jackson, Etti & Edu, performing as Solicitors to MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Kari Toriola and one other, requested the AGF to take over the case from the NCC, citing strikes by Maleke Idowu Moye and the Fee to “embarrass” the CEO, smear MTN’s status and destabilize the corporate’s enterprise together with its share value.

MTN informed the OAGF that Maleke had been financially settled prior to now earlier than the time of Karl Toriola, and it had additionally “discontinued using all of the songs” since 2017.

The solicitors urged the OAGF to look at the NCC’s matter in order to “stop the abuse of authorized course of.”.

MTN petition seen by Nairametrics partly reads,

It’s our humble submission that the information enumerated above will reveal that the current legal Cost in opposition to MTNN, Its CEO and a Junior officer is calculated to harass, embarrass, and drive the arms of the first, 2nd and third Defendants to do the bidding of the Nominal complainant (Mr. Maleke) by paying a number of lots of of tens of millions of naira for alleged acts of infringement that befell when the 2nd and third Defendants weren’t in cost or accountable for the affairs of MTNN.

“The prosecution of this case and the trial of MTNN’S CEO will erode the company picture of MTNN and deplete its profitability thereby affecting its share value, the Nigerian inventory market, and taxes payable to the Federal Authorities by the corporate.”

In letter to the Courtroom dated June 19, 2024, the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, OAGF, acknowledged that “After a cautious consideration of the petition and according to the provisions of Part 174 (1) (b) of the Structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Honourable Legal professional-Normal of the Federation and Minister of Justice has taken over the prosecution of CHARGE NO: FHC/ABJ/CR/111/2024 BETWEEN NIGERIAN COPYRIGHT COMMISSION V. MTN NIGERIA COMMUNICATIONS, KARL OLUKOTUN TORIOLA, NKEAKAM ABHULIMEN, FUN MOBILE LIMITED, YAHAYA MAIBE from the Nigerian Copyright Fee.”

What transpired in courtroom

On the resumed proceedings on Monday, Aderonke Imana, Esq, counsel for the AGF, informed Justice Inyang Ekwo that although the matter was slated for plea, nonetheless, she has the instruction of the Legal professional Normal of the Federation to take over the matter this morning pursuant to his constitutional powers.

She then urged the courtroom to provide an extra date as a result of there’s a want for her workplace to do a evaluate of the NCC case file, including the AGF has written to the Fee and the Nigerian Police to ship a report.

“I’ve additionally written to this Courtroom,” She added.

What would you like now? Ekwo responded.

She replied that she wished to take over the prosecution of the case and wished the Courtroom to adjourn the matter to a different date.

Ekwo requested her to say the date she wished as a result of “I are not looking for you to return again and provides an excuse by some means.”

Imana then utilized for tenth October 2024.

“Upon the applying of the Discovered Counsel for the Prosecution, I make an Order adjourning this case to tenth October 2024, for Plea, ” Justice Ekwo dominated.

It’s now inside the purview of the AGF to both proceed the case or discontinue it according to the allegations of the MTN contained in its petition.

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