On December 15, 2020, the social media was agog with news that Chief Tony Okoroji, the nation’s renowned copyright mastermind and widely respected former President of PMAN had been arrested and taken to Benin-City for questioning. Without any explanation, the very same Tony Okoroji was reported to be in Lagos on December 15 where he presided over the Annual General Meeting of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation’s biggest copyright collective management organization which took place at the COSON House, Ikeja and attended by some of the nation’s biggest musicians.
Www.dailynewscover.com has learnt that there was indeed a serious attempt to abduct Chief Okoroji and whisk him to Benin-City and thereby abort the scheduled Annual -General Meeting of COSON. The attempt which was said to have been hatched in Benin and involved 5 plain clothes policemen from the Area 5 command of the police was already in full swing when it was suddenly aborted by orders from above. Unknown to some of the perpetrators of the plan who converged on the magnificent COSON House in Ikeja on December 15, expecting Chief Okoroji to have been captured and locked up in Benin, Okoroji was live at COSON House presiding over a Board meeting.
Angered by the attempt to use the police to abduct the COSON Chairman, a group of Okoroji’s friends has petitioned the Buhari government over what they consider the misuse and abuse of the powers of the police in the attempt to abduct the COSON Chairman in Lagos by five men said to be police officers from Zone 5 Police Command, Benin City.
In a letter addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, and copied to President Mohammed Buhari, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and other senior officers of the government, the friends of Chief Tony Okoroji vehemently protested what they termed the wicked plan to humiliate and maybe waste away an illustrious Nigerian citizen.
According to the protest letter, “the manner of the aborted abduction of this renowned patriot, celebrated former President of PMAN and author who is the continent’s most profound campaigner for the rights of creative people, is condemnable and needs to be investigated”
The friends of the celebrated intellectual property guru went on to write: “It is our view that it is this kind of abuse by law enforcement agents that led to the #Endsars protest that resulted in huge consequences for the nation”.
Among those who endorsed the protest letter are famed actor and broadcaster, Mr. Patrick Doyle; music legend, Sir Shina Peters; London based Nigerian popstar and Pastor of Power Church International, Dizzy k. Falola; Pastor Eliashib Ime James, Founding Minister of Christ Publishers Ministry and Gospel Singer, Kenny Saint Brown.
In the protest letter, several questions were raised and proposed to be answered by an investigation. The questions are the following:
1. Did the Police in Benin City at any time invite Chief Tony Okoroji to Benin and he failed to honour the invitation, thereby necessitating the Gestapo style abduction in Lagos by five policemen from Benin? The protesters said that they were asking because knowing Chief Okoroji, he would never dishonour any invitation by the police.
2. At a time of significant violent crime in the country, were scarce funds belonging to the police expended in sending five policemen from Benin to Lagos including hiring of a bus and accommodation for the five officers just to drag Chief Okoroji to Benin when a telephone call would have sufficed? If not, who funded the failed operation and what is the interest of the person or persons?
3. Was there any investigation into the jaundiced petition against Chief Okoroji to establish its merit or is it now the practice that once a petition is written against any Nigerian citizen, the police is programed to arrest him or her? We ask this because we know Chief Okoroji to be a Nigerian of Impeccable character not given to shady dealings.
4. Is it not clear that if Chief Okoroji had not made contacts on the phone, after six hours of being held at the Police Area ‘F’ Ikeja, he would have been whisked off at unholy hours to Benin-City just in the clothes he was wearing, without having a bath, with no food, with none of his medications at a time it is public knowledge that he is very sick and without any money whatsoever and anything could have been said to have happened to him on the way?
5. Who is behind this wicked plan against an illustrious Nigerian citizen; to humiliate him and maybe waste his life away and who gave the orders for the operation?
6. Was Okoroji accused of murder, armed robbery or treason to justify this barbaric treatment and how many Nigerians who have no right telephone numbers to call are treated this way and maybe die in the process?
The authors of the letter to the Buhari government insist that the matter should receive urgent attention. They make it clear that they do not intend to keep quiet until the perpetrators of the dastardly act are unearthed and shamed. They also stated that Chief Okoroji deserves the full apology of the police. It is clear that the last has not been heard about this matter.Www.dailynewscover.com is closely following the story and you will be kept tuned to the developments.