Absence of Judge Stalls MTN Nigeria CEO’s Copyright Infringement Trial

The absence of Justice Inyang Ekwo on Thursday stalled the trial of the Managing Director of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, Mr. Karl Toriola, and others for alleged copyright infringement at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The matter was adjourned till September 26 for the defendants to take their plea.

Other defendants in the charge are MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, MTN Senior Executive Officer, Nkeakam Abhulimen, a telecommunications service provider, Fun Mobile Limited, and Yahaya Maibe.

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) had on May 14, accused Toriola of evading service of court documents in the charge.

Justice Ekwo had adjourned the matter till Thursday (today) to allow the prosecution to effect service of the court papers on the MTN CEO.

But the case which was listed as number one on the cause list was stalled today due to the judge’s absence.

A musician, Maleke Moye, who is the nominal complainant in the suit, had raised alarm over the alleged plan by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, to take over the case.

He said the minister’s directive to NCC to hand off the case and forward the file to his office portends impending dangerous precedence.

In a three-count charge filed on March 20, the commission alleged that the defendants between 2010 and 2017 offered for “sale, sold and traded for business, infringed musical works of Moye without his consent.”

The NCC added that the defendants used Moye’s musical works and sound recordings with subsisting copyright known as “caller ring back tunes” without the authorisation of the artiste