The Chronicles of Chill: The Sansafication of Lady Yeeshah

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And it came to pass that King Gambrach returned from Jandinia, with relief from his affliction of Many Years Disease. Moborius, the King’s favoured portrait engraver, shewed engravings with the King’s descent from his winged chariot and the parade of the many centurions that came thither to welcome him. Some member of his Council were also on hand to welcome him. “Welcome, O great King”, they greeted, “behold thy glistening, shiny new ear! It is most glorious to behold!” Gambrach grimaced and replied, to the councillor standing closest to him, “Is this the true nature of thy voice? Sheesh!” Gambrach cast a sad, longing look back at the winged carriage, knowing that if he made a run for it and headed back to Jandinia, there would be severe unchill.

 

This was very shortly after Mefilius had followed the order to independently take the decision to float the coin of the land. There was chill in the land, as all adjusted to the flotilla of coins all over the atmosphere. But this is Twilistia & Social Mediana, where eternal vigilance is the price paid for chill. As such, the chill could only be fleeting.

 

In Oshunlonica, king Ogbenyssius was in a bit of a quandary. His coffers were empty and he was not able to pay the wages of the kingdom’s workers. The centres of learning were also in a satirical crisis, with children arriving for instruction wearing religious garments, looking to appease the gods both old and new. Ogbenyssius, like Gambrach, was of House Apicuria and apparently this was a time of dreaming dreams and seeing visions. Or hearing voices. Ogbenyssius was in deep thought about his travails one day, when he heard the words “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Uphargarrium”.

 

“What meanest thee by these ancient words?” Ogbenyssius asked the voice. But there was no answer, so Ogbenyssius summoned his council to see if any knew amongst them. None knew the language but one remembered a story from his youth, with similar words, about weights and scales.

 

“Ah,” thought Ogbenyssius, “we shall inaugurate and commission new scales across Oshunlonica. We shall depart from the metric system and our new measure of weight shall be the Ogbeny. And the people shall be thrilled, for it will solve all their grain problems.”

 

And behold, all through the land, there was a rumbling of unchill, as the people laughed in derision at the Oshunlonicans and their king.

 

And lo, a few mornings after, king Yode of Ekitilopia woke up the people of the land with gory news. Yea, did he gather them all there – the Social Medianites, the Digital Perusites, the Twillistians and the Amalakites (who were a new tribe known for devouring copious amounts of amala and soup at the city of Jevinik). “Behold the tyranny of Gambrach!” Yode cried. “He has embargoed my personal lodgements at the Zen Bank, contrary to our laws.”

 

And there were further murmurings in the kingdom. “We thought Gambrach had been cured of Many Years Disease”, one quarter protested. And yet others retorted, “Yode abuseth Gambrach longtime! Get him!!”

 

Yode gave further details. “Gambrach setteth the Everly Failing at Convictions Commission against me, alleging I attained the throne of Ekitilopia by fraud. Oh how I would that he waiteth until my quadrannium ends in 2 years and they couldst lawfully prosecute me. Thou knowest that a king may not be prosecuted in our land until he endeth his reign.”

 

And the rumblings increased, with debates in the town squares, one way and the other.

 

“And what is this battle against corruption anyway, if not a sham?” Yode continued. “Afterall, Yeeshah, the wife of Gambrach herself is named in the corruption parchment from Barackistan.”

And my gheeeurd, there erupted a geyser of unchill in the land for Lerthagoras of House Padipalia shewed all gathered the corruption parchment. And lo, was there indeed the name Yeeshah within.

 

And the rumblings got even louder; so loud that they reached Gambrach’s High Palace in Boo Jar. And yea, Gar Bar, scribe of Gambrach addressed the people. “Pay ye no heed to Yode. His mind is the mind of a child and his musings the ramblings the words of a girl with daddy issues. Knoweth he not that there are several Yeeshahs and the Yeeshah named in the corruption parchment is not Yeeshah of Gambrach?”

 

Lo, did the word of Gar Bar go forth and yea, did the people think it was over. In the High Palace, Yeeshah was seething. She wanted to respond to Yode, and reminded her aides how Yode had taunted Gambrach with death, during electoralis. “Patience, M’lady,” they responded. “You want me to respond as Patience lady of Gejoshaphat would?” she asked. “No, M’lady. Exercise patience. The Everly Commission, for sure, will have him in their keep in the fullness of time.” “What, again? Who let Femcallamitus in?” she asked.

 

Yeeshah remained in her chambers, and called her conjurer to conjure up the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, in her magic water-bowl. And as she saw Sansa set the dogs on Ramsay, she knew exactly what she would do.

 

Yeeshah went into Twillistia Square and declared loudly, “Yode!!! Thou unchained dog! One has had enough of thee! Gambrach may be 73 and old but I am 45 and young and I will defend myself! Thou chainless hound! It is on, my niccur!!!”

 

Behold, verily, verily, after her declaration, was there no gaddem chill to be found anywhere in the land. Absolutely none.

 

 

Post-Script

In the midst of the crisis, came the lucidity that birthed a new mathematical theorem, which the people called the Lerthagoras Theorem. For Lerthagoras responded with a postulation that Yeeshah had just declared that she was married to Gambrach at the age of 13. How? He took 45 years away from 73, ended up with 32 and then, well … see for yourself.

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Can A Governor’s Bank Account Be Frozen?

The EFCC has apparently frozen the Zenith Bank Account of the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose. Since the news broke, debate has raged on whether or not the action is legal, given the provisions of our constitution on immunity for certain persons.

Here’s the Governor Announcing the Freeze

First of all, some non-controversial stuff.

The Constitution is Supreme

Sections 1(1) & 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution say –

1(1) – This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

1(3) – If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution, this constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void.

There are restrictions on Legal Proceedings — Section 308, 1999 Constitution

“(1)(a)No civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted against a person or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office.

“(1)(b)A person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either on pursuance of the process of any court or otherwise.

“(1)(c) No process of any court requiring or compelling the appearance of a person to whom this section applies, shall be applied or issued.

“(3) This section applies to a person holding the office of President or Vice-President, Governor or Deputy-Governor…”

The EFCC, generally, can apply for bank accounts to be frozen

Section 34(1) of the EFCC Act reads as follows –

“Notwithstanding anything contained in any other enactment or law, the Chairman of the Commission or any officer authorised by him may, if satisfied that the money in the account of a person is made through the commission of an offence under this Act and or any of the enactments specified under section 7 (2) (a)-(f) of this Act, apply to the Court ex-parte for power to issue an order as specified in Form B of the Schedule to this Act, addressed to the manager of the bank or any person in control of the financial institution or designated non-financial institution where the account is or believed by him to be or the head office of the bank, other financial institution or designated non-financial institution to freeze the account.”

Here’s what the Form B looks like –

“Order remains in force until revoked”

People with immunity can be investigated

There’s a good account here of the case law that established that immunity from court proceedings isn’t immunity from investigation. It was the celebrated case of Fawehinmi v. Inspector General of Police (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt.767) 606, where the plaintiff sought an order compelling the defendant to investigate the governor of Lagos. The review has an interesting excerpt and I recommend the piece to the extent that it establishes that the immunity clauses of the constitution do not preclude investigations.

Where it starts to get murky…

i. Freezing Order. The procedure outlined for the EFCC here is to seek an order, via ex-parte injunction, permitting them to serve Form B on a financial institution. In making its application to the court to freeze the bank account of a sitting governor, the governor would have to be named in the court process as the Respondent. Can a sitting governor with immunity under the constitution be properly named in his personal capacity in any such proceedings? To put the question in a different way, if no proceedings can be brought in which a person enjoying immunity is a party, how can an order be validly sought and given under such proceedings?

ii. The nature of exparte injunctions. It is always helpful to go back to the philosophical basis of legal doctrines and tools. One of the pillars of justice is that both sides of a case must be heard prior to judgement. However, in cases where there is a real urgency (either of preserving a right or preventing a breach), one side may in the absence of the other (exparte) apply to the court to grant an injunction preventing an act. Exparte injunctions are “interim” orders granted pending the determination of a motion on notice, where both parties argue the particular issue (different from an “interlocutory” order, where a situation preserved until the substantive suit is concluded).

In the normal course of an exparte application, the appearance and participation of the respondent is both contemplated and required. Where the respondent is a governor with immunity privileges, it’s difficult to see the grounds for granting the order.

iii. Criminal Proceedings vs Civil Proceedings. While it is clear that Governor Fayose can be investigated for any crime, it is clearer that he cannot be subject to any proceedings in court. If neither criminal nor civil proceedings can be instituted against him, or his appearance compelled by any process of court, it goes to no issue to try to argue that seeking a court order does not amount to starting criminal proceedings. It is true that proceedings are either civil or criminal, but if neither can be brought against him, it serves no purpose to suggest that the court order is one or the other.

iv. Freezing Account =/= Investigation. We have established that the governor can be investigated. It has been argued by some that freezing his account is necessary to conduct the investigation. I do not think this is valid, for the following reasons — (i)fraud is proved by transactions, not the existence of a certain account balance. If Gov. X stole $20bn (America will know, mind you), put the money in his account and disburses it all before the EFCC shows up, does his empty bank balance absolve him? (ii) following from (i) the account does not need to be frozen for its history to be accessed or established. (iii) Governor Fayose is in office until 2018; is it the plan to freeze his accounts until then? As part of the ‘investigation’? Or as a prelude to trial?

Conclusion

To conclude, it will probably need to be confirmed by a further decision of the courts (only because it’s not explicitly spelt out in black and white already) but as far as I can see, it is illegal to freeze a sitting governor’s account because the procedure for obtaining the order to effect a freeze is incompetent.

The Chronicles of Chill: What Ears Have Heard

Floating Coin 2 

 

It continued to be a most peculiar time in the land, and in the twin cities of Social Mediana and Twilistia. In spite of the cries of agony pervading the land, people found pleasure in crowning themselves with roses and daisies. Behold, did it happen that not only women paraded themselves crowned in botanical glory, but so also did many men. These be-flowered people came to be known as The Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Snappy Chat – which was the name of the most prominent flower in the bouquet.

 

And Gambrach was disgusted at the enflowerment of the people, for it was evidence of unwarranted levity in a time that surely required grave severity. For there was corruption still to be fought, corrupt people to be named and convictions to be secured.

 

And thus it was, as the first year of Gambrach’s reign was coming to a close, the king proclaimed that the names of all those who converted the kingdom’s commonwealth during the reign of Gejoshaphat would be published. Yea, had these men and women been detained by the Everly Failing at Convictions Commission, and it was said by the men of the king, that many had willingly yielded over some possessions to the kingdom. But the Everly Commission was yet seeking their convictions. And when the list came forth, the people beheld it and saw that none was named. And when they asked why the names had not been written, according to the order of Gambrach, Oshinoshin his Hand replied, “A looter has no name.”

 

And there were rumblings in the land.

 

In Ekitilopia, the cries of the workers had risen to king Yode, for he owed them several months’ wages. And when he answered them not, each man and woman cast his hand away from the plough and they declared that they would no longer work. Having no coin to satisfy their wages, and with the doors of the Iron Bank of Boo Jar shut against the lower kingdoms, Yode also declared that he would no longer work, in solidarity with his workers. Seest the impossibility in making a joke here? Behold, it was the most bizarre thing the chronicler had beheld.

 

It was also in this day that E-Dawg went all the way to the Appalachian Mountains to fetch a chief of Native Indian heritage to represent the land at the Congress of Black Oil Makers (COBOM). It was well known that the Appalachians are the best in dealing in Black Oil. And all hailed the chief brought by E-Dawg. And the chief’s name was Barking Dog. It was therefore no surprise also, that Barking Dog and E-Dawg were homies.

 

To celebrate Chief Barking Dog’s ascension at COBOM, Gambrach proclaimed that all the deltoid fields that had suffered spillings of black oil over the years would be cleansed. Lo, did he purpose in his heart to mark the commencement of the cleansing with pomp and fanfare. And it came to pass that on the day set forth for the commemoration, news came to the people that Osinoshin would attend in his place. And news came to the people that Gambrach was ill, with Many Years Disease. The king’s meisters in Boo Jar had done their best, but felt it would be better for the meisters in Jandinia to have a look.

 

And there was a louder rumbling in the land, led by the meisters not in Boo Jar. “Knoweth Gambrach not that we are possessed of several meisters, most skilled in Many Years Disease? Why goeth he to Jandinia?”

 

And many in Twilistia had not heard of Many Years Disease prior to Gambrach’s affliction. Lo, they quickly consulted the oracle Googlam and it was revealed to them that Many Years Disease, as the name implied, came upon those who had stubbornly held on to beliefs for ‘many years’. Duh uh.

 

And when Gambrach reached Jandinia, the meisters examined him and asked, “Where doth the Many Years Disease afflict thee?”

 

“In my ear”, answered Gambrach.

 

“Why you sef no dey hear word?” asked the head meister in Jandinian English?

 

“Ehn?” said Gambrach, gesturing to show that he did not hear what the meister had asked, and turned his other ear toward him. “Oho”, answered the meister, and yinmued at him.

 

“Ehn?” repeated Gambrach.

 

“I say make you no worry; say we go arrange you new ear, you go soon dey hear word” said the doctor again, in his crisp, upper class Jandinian accent.

 

And the meisters gave Gambrach a new ear, but he had to convalesce for 13 days before he could return to the land. And while Gambrach slept, the Tword came to him in the still of the night and spake mysteries unto him. As Gambrach awoke, he sent a raven with a parchment to Mefilius, the independent head of the Iron Bank of Boo Jar, instructing him on what independent steps he ought to take, as revealed by the Tword.

 

In a short while, the parchment reached Mefilius, and it read as follows –

 

“Mefilius my boy, what goeth on? How hangest it? Hope this meetest thou in the bestest of health. If so, doxology. Last night I had a dream. In the dream, I held a bag of coin in my hand, as I walked along the banks of a river. But the coin was only for use across the other side of the river, and lo I was surrounded by people seeking to cross, begging me for this special coin, so they could trade across the river. And I asked them, “what wilst thou buy?” and they answered “toothpicks & chocolates & luxurious dresses”. As you can imagine, I was filled with rage, and decided that these were not wise uses for the riverine coin. So I began to choose which of them I would give coin, simply by looking at their faces, searching for sincerity and propriety of purpose.

 

“But even more people craved the coin for the other side of the river; and yet the coin for my side of the river seemed to become more scarce as I rationed the other side’s.   And I was confused. For one year I sat by the riverside paralysed by confusion. And then a voice said unto me, ‘Gambrach!’ And I replied ‘Who goes there? Identify yourself!’ And the voice said ‘Cool down. Chill first. Take the bag of coin in your hand and throw it into the river.’ And I said, ‘Say that again into my new ear, I think my old ear heard you say throw the money into the water.’ And the voice said, ‘Yeah. Do it.’

 

“So I threw the bag into the water. And at first the bag sank, as I expected. But before I could say ‘WAEC Certificate’, a light shone through the river from where the bag fell and the bag rose and began to float.

 

“Mefilius, I order you to independently take the decision to float our coin.”

 

So Mefilius went into his independent thinking chamber to think independently about what the king had ordered him to do. And Mefilius did as he was told. And unchill erupted because many who advised that steps be taken to safeguard the coin of the land shouted, “Why waitest thou one year to do something?” And the Lovengers on the other side exclaimed “Behold the greatest thing ever done to coin. Gambrach had to wait one year, so that the corruptioneers, who are saboteurs could me moved out of the way first.”

 

And there was yet greater unchill, for a Pharisee had once again brought up the matter of Gambrach’s Scroll de Minimis. Gambrach heard it so loudly, that he hired 15 senior Pharisees in his defence…

The 5 Stages of Political Grief

GEJBuhari

15 months after the elections and 12 after the swearing-in of the new administration, more than enough time has passed for everyone to move on from campaign rhetoric and be more forward looking. It doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon, though, as many on either side of the fence still seem somewhat upset, for various reasons. However, both sides are more alike than each would like to admit and have been going through the same emotional/grief cycle. How, you ask, given that one side’s candidate won and the other lost? I’ll try to explain it.

 

Denial

For the Jonathanians, there was a lot of hope in the power of his incumbency and while they did expect the elections to be close, they did not anticipate his loss at the polls. They tried to point out voting irregularities like extensive underage voting in some parts of the country and a blanket failure of card readers. But it was not to be. Jonathan had lost.

 

The Buharists on the other hand, could not believe that the candidate they had sold with so much gusto was not similarly embraced by the entire country. Newspapers, in succession, both local and foreign, pointed out that he was probably as problematic a candidate as Jonathan, with his own Achilles Heel. However, they sold the candidate they imagined and hoped Buhari would be. President Buhari went on to win the election, but only by 51% of the vote to Jonathan’s 46%.

 

Anger

The Jonathanians were aggrieved at their principal’s loss and nothing is more symbolic of that anger than former Minister Orubebe’s sit-in “We will not take it” protest while the results were being announced.

 

Meanwhile, between the elections and the President’s assumption of office, information began to filter through about the wanton excesses that had occurred in President Jonathan’s government and how some officials were keen to make restitution before the axe of Buhari was imbued with the power of office and came swinging down with a vengeance. The Buharists were angry that so many were willing to consider Jonathan for re-election, and that alleged looters thought they could plea-deal their way out of consequences for their actions.

 

Bargaining

Then came all the what-ifs and if-onlys. If only Jonathan had focused on the Niger Delta and on Power. If only he’d shown a steelier spine and not been such a Johnny-come-lately, allowing everyone and everything to sway him. And if only Buhari was a bit more communicative and empathetic and did not do things that lent credence to the pre-election suspicions of the Jonathanians. What if he’d actually hit the ground running and appointed a cabinet earlier? And if only when he spoke he didn’t actually say some of the things that he was being reported to have said.

 

Depression

This is the current stage in the cycle. Both camps are losing wind and are defending their principals with a little less enthusiasm now. The profligacy of the Jonathan administration has led to the alleged uncovering of swathes of cash buried away in septic tanks and false walls in people’s homes; revelations, almost new every morning, about the EFCC’s noose tightening around some former official or the other’s neck. President Buhari has also not shown too much dexterity outside the sphere of chasing down loot, with the economy reeling from his tentativeness in addressing its issues. More than a few of his supporters, even the most ardent ones have stopped just short of renouncing their followership.

 

Acceptance

This is where we urgently need everyone to get to, especially the President’s cabinet. Looking back so frequently and pointing accusatory fingers only opens the door for them to be measured against the same yardsticks, as they are all coming to find. The supporters also need to fully accept the flaws of their respective principals with equanimity. Both have huge chinks in their armour and anyone who sticks their neck too far out in their defence will probably end up with a lot of egg on their face. We need to accept that GEJ wasn’t all bad and Buhari isn’t all good. We need to also accept that our fate, at least for the immediate future, lies in Buhari’s hands & his failure has grave implications for all of us.

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Hopefully, acceptance will mean that as supporters we can put away triumphalism, snark and I-told-you-so; and that the current administration is looking firmly forward. Let’s move on.

 

 

NB.

What about supporters of Kowa Party (and other “mushroom parties”) and those who remained on the fence in undeclared fealty?

Telephonic Trespass – To Lock or not to Unlock?

Lying in Bed

 

As more and more couples spend evenings sitting together, ostensibly watching the telly but rather, gazing into their respective handheld devices, sometimes with a smirk and others with an outright guffaw, the question is increasingly asked if one spouse is entitled to withhold access to his or her device from the other. (*NB, I’m not bachelor/spinster-phobic, feel free to replace ‘spouse’ with ‘partner’).

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It’s a question that probably has philosophical similarities with the older question of whether or not there should be any secrets between spouses. In our traditionally patriarchal society, the question was ‘should a man tell his wife everything?’. Growing up, I actually overheard a family friend say to parents at a gathering once, ‘it is a foolish man that tells his wife everything’. So, is it a foolish man that grants his wide unfettered access to his phone? Is it an overzealous wife that demands it?

 

I suppose the obvious answer is, well, you’re in a committed relationship, so unless you’re hiding your communications with a lover, why should your phone be off limits to your spouse? And it’s a valid question. According to the National Institute of Beer Parlour Statistics (NIBPS – beer with me), 78% of the people who discovered their partners were having affairs made the discovery on their partner’s phone or tablet. Undeleted messages, time-stamped pictures destroying alibis, call logs showing 15 calls in one day to Hakeem Barber (even though the man is bald).

Couple fighting over phone

It’s possible though for the affair being covered up not to be one in which the spouse with the locked phone is participating. NIBPS statistics suggest that 65% of the men who lock their phones do so to prevent their friends from being embarrassed. A friend may have sent a naughty picture or video and the husband doesn’t want his wife seeing his friend in that light. Sometimes, it’s also to protect the sanctity of the Vegas chatrooms – what’s said in Vegas stays in Vegas and all. The NIBPS Fidelity Report of 2015 actually draws a parallel between the Vegas chatrooms and the Cigar Clubs of the aristocracy – no spouses allowed. It’s like a confessional, where all the other men are joint and several confessors.

 

Women aren’t left out, even though the NIBPS statistics show that only 18% are fearful of their husbands wanting to look through their phones.  They also lock their phones for similar reasons.

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In all this however, there are those who declare that their spouses are expressly prohibited from touching, answering, swiping or otherwise attempting in any other manner howsoever expressed to unlock, access or otherwise retrieve information from their devices. These spouses (men, usually) are the envy of those who have not had the testicular fortitude to make such pronunciations in their own homes. In the homes of the envious men, it is known beyond doubt, reasonable or otherwise, that the highest appellate court in the household resides in the bosom of the wife, so there will be no prohibition.

 

How do the banners do it? Well, the NIBPS research has uncovered 2 categories of men who achieve prohibition successfully. The first employ means of harsh words and violence, both threatened and, quite sadly, demonstrated. Thankfully, the NIBPS puts their number at only 5% of the banners, as the means of enforcing the ban are simply not sustainable. Those with long-term success, the 97% (if you’re a Buharist) achieve it commercially, by buying it. New car? Check. New phone? Check. Trip with the girls and decent shopping money? Check. Check. Cheque.

 

And it makes sense, really. “The less one is able to meet one’s obligations, the more they will be held to account for their time.” Robert Mugabe, 1759.

 

So where does this leave us? If your spouse isn’t one of the 38% that don’t care and locked phones are the elephant in the room of your relationship, perhaps you should consider ditching your dirty laundry and your smutty friends. Or simply be rich.

The Nigerian Music Industry: Random Thoughts

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for the entertainment industry here in Lagos, on the legal side of things. Injunctions were sought (and allegedly flouted), some arrests were made (a label was following the money) and some deals were re-done. Some thoughts on the goings-on and more –

 

  1. It’s a business, not a charity

One of the viewpoints to first make the rounds on social media was that labels ‘in the abroad’ aren’t as hardnosed as Nigerian ones. They, allegedly, invest millions in the artist and if the artist doesn’t make it, everyone just parts ways.

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It’s a slightly outside way of looking at things. Yes, it’s a risk the labels are taking and if they’re not happy at the end of your contract, everyone parts ways happily (see, for example Skales and his former label, EME). However, no “abroadian” artist is going to simply up and try to jump ship. You either run out your contract, try to get the label to release you, or ask the court to tear the contract up. It’s a very naïve or poorly advised artist that declares a unilateral end to a contract that hasn’t yet expired.

 

  1. Contracts are almost unbreakable. But bring the tear of a dragon & a unicorn’s horn & we’ll see…

Contracts are the lifeblood of commerce. If people were able to make commitments to others and fail to honour them without any consequences, business/trade would be in tatters. For this reason, all over the [free] world, Courts are very reluctant to end or amend contracts that have been freely entered into.

 

However, courts have in the past released musicians from their labels, where they were convinced that the recording contract, or the circumstances of the relationship between the parties, prevented the musician from making a living (restraint of trade). Typically, this is where the label has refused to honour music release/publication commitments or has made the terms for doing so too tasking for the artist. Courts might also be minded to declare a contract invalid if the artist can show undue influence on the part of the label. So, basically, if you can show that you were strong-armed into signing onto the label, or that the label is making it virtually impossible for you to earn any income, you might want to talk to a lawyer about securing your release. Lawsuits can be expensive though, especially for an artist alleging that the label is closing off his/her income…

 

  1. Those Unbelievable Clauses? It’s the economics, St#$@*!

Following the ‘arrest’ and questioning of one artist and his manager, snippets of the artist’s recording contract were released and many commentators were shocked at the terms. The most fantastic of the terms appeared to be the £10m release/buy-out clause (riddle: when is a label like a Premier League club?) and the assignment to the label of the artist’s copyright in compositions that existed prior to his joining the label.

 

The immediate assumption was that the artist signed the contract without seeking legal advice or, in the alternative, that he had a bad lawyer. It’s an assumption that misunderstands the dynamics of the Nigerian music industry, as the thinking behind it is that an artist can get a label to significantly change the terms of its contract.

 

There are indeed a few artists that can get their requests for changes agreed to, but most are either label owners or execs themselves. For artists on the up and come, there is very little leverage that can be applied on the label, so it’s usually a take-it-or-leave-it situation. The artist in question here had just been released by his former label, where he’d only been moderately successful and had this new label promising him a signature bonus, a brand new SUV and a flat in Lekki. How many artists in that situation would listen to the lawyer’s advice not to sign?

I’m speaking from personal experience, having advised an artist on a nearly identical contract (whose template is it, anyway?) sans SUV and flat. The label lawyer rejected virtually all the changes requested, so the artist was advised not to sign. Artist signed anyway.

 

  1. Where’s the money, anyway?

Ask the average Nigerian artist where they expect their money to come from and you’re likely to hear live performances and product endorsements. Maybe caller ringback tunes as well. Virtually no one is interested in record sales. This Nigerian model is predicated on music being given away for free in the expectation that fame (and then the live performances and endorsements) will follow. This model probably only works for the Top 20-30 artists in my estimation and I don’t believe it to be sustainable. In addition, on CRBTs side, the average artist will get only 6-12% of the gross revenue, depending on the network (those that pay, that is; some are notorious for not paying).

 

Globally though, the highest growth area for music revenue is music streaming, with the IFPI 2016 Global Music Report showing that streaming revenues increased globally by 42.5% on 2015’s numbers. Digital sales on the whole have overtaken physical, the figures now standing at 45% and 39%, respectively.

Streaming accounts for nearly half of the global industry’s digital revenues. I might have a slight occupational bias here, but artists as a whole stand to make a lot more if they began to take digital REVENUES (not merely distribution) seriously.

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  1. Which brings us to COSON…

COSON continues to do a great job of informing the public in the various rights that music users should respect. They have also done well, as the sole collecting society authorised by the Nigerian Copyright Commission, in collecting license payments from broadcasters and public venues where music is played and enjoyed (hotels, bars, restaurants, etc.).  However, this is performance rights revenue, which globally accounts for only 14% of the pie. If the aim, as the representatives of COSON frequently say, is to ensure that producers, session musicians, songwriters, etc. also get a slice, there’s the question to be asked whether or not it’s helpful to join the industry in ignoring sales. A few producers have been in the news recently, accusing artists of not having paid for the work – they have no share in the revenue from the artist’s live performances, so what’s the remedy? There’s also the issue of sampling and covering – ordinarily, there should be a minimum statutory fraction of the sales revenue (from the song doing the sampling or covering) that goes to the original composer. In a jurisdiction where sales aren’t paid attention to, and no statutory rates apply, how do the original rightsholders get compensated?

 

I am aware, I should say, that COSON has a digital licensing framework in the works, and I look forward to its publication in the near future.