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NCC accuses MTN MD of evading court service

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The Nigerian Copyright Commission has on Tuesday accused the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, Karl Toriola, of evading service of court documents in an alleged copyright infringement suit

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the NCC’s lawyer, Gladys Ojo, made the allegation before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court Abuja.

It was reported that Justice Ekwo had, on 29 April, fixed Tuesday for NCC, Toriola, and other co-defendants to take their plea following his failure to appear in court on the last adjourned date for their arraignment.

NCC had, in a charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/111/2024, sued MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd; Toriola; MTN Senior Executive Officer, Nkeakam Abhulimen; Fun Mobile Ltd, a telecommunications service provider; and Yahaya Maibe, its CEO as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.

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In the three count-count charges dated 19 March and filed 20 March by Emeka Ogbonna on NCC’s behalf, the prosecution alleged that the defendants, between 2010 and 2017, “offered for sale, sold and traded for business, infringed musical works of Maleke Moye, an artiste, without his consent and authorization.”

The commission alleged that the defendants used Maleke’s musical works and sound recordings with subsisting copyright, known as “caller ring back tunes,” without the authorization of the artiste.

The musical works and sound recordings of the musician allegedly infringed upon include “911, Minimini-Wana Wana, Stop Racism, Ewole, 911 instrumental, Radio, Low Waist, and No Bother.”

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The defendants were also alleged to have illegally distributed the musical works to their subscribers without authorization, thereby infringing on the rights of the artiste.

In the third count, the defendants were alleged to have the musical works and sound recordings of the artiste other than for their personal or domestic use.

The copyright commission said the alleged offense is punishable under Section 20 (2) (a) (b) and (c) of the Copyright Act, Cap. C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

It was also reported that in the last adjourned date, Messrs Toriola and Abhulimen were neither in court nor represented by any counsel.

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When the case was called on Tuesday, Messrs Toriola and Abhulimen were again not in court.

Speaking, Ms Ojo said although the matter was fixed for arraignment today, only Maibe (5th defendant) was in court.

She said all efforts made to serve Toriola personally were unsuccessful.

The lawyer said the MTN MD allegedly refused to be served.

“The last time, we told my lord we were having issues serving the MTN CEO.

“We sent our officers to the MTN office in Lagos to serve them, but we were denied access. We also sent the charge via DHL,” she said.

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