Veteran singer, Onyeka Onwenu, has filed a suit seeking N205 million in damages against music distribution platform, Iroking.
The singer had released a broadcast to the public on Sunday, January 14, 2018, in which she announced her plans to take the music distributors to court. She’s done it now.
IROKING is a free Nigerian music streaming service offering streaming of selected music from a range of African labels and artists. Its website platform was launched in December 2011 by iROKO Partners.
Why She Is Suing
Known fondly as ‘the elegant stallion’ in Nigeria, Onwenu has also explained in detail, the reason why she is taking legal action against the company. According to her, she is suing against the massive violation of her musical copyright dues and the illegal exploitation of her intellectual property.
“For years, Iroking profited from the sale of my music, even after a two-year contract it signed with me had elapsed. For years, also, they denied that they were doing so, they denied that they had made any profits from their illegal exploits. When they were caught in the lie, they wanted to settle but refused to show up for meetings.
“Iroking as a Company is arrogant and has no regard for the people, Artistes whose works and labour have made them successful. We are therefore suing to make a point. Artistes have a right to profit from their Intellectual Property and labour. Nigeria has Copyright Laws which ought to be respected. The music industry has been built up and sustained by artistes and entrepreneurs like me. I demand to be protected by the Laws of my Country. Iroking must pay for this violation.”
Speaking further, Onwenu encouraged other musicians in similar situations to stand up and seek justice.
“It is also my hope that other Artistes will wake up and demand what is due them. Many do not know that their music is being exploited on YouTube and other carriers,” she said.
“Some record companies are selling our music on the internet and claiming ownership of the copyright. If only we would pay attention, Artistes would discover that while they had been doing all the creative work, investing in their careers and in the industry at large, someone else is collecting all the profit. Enough is Enough! Arise Nigerian artistes and take back what belongs to you. You have been cheated for far too long”, she said.
Onwenu began her music career in 1981 while still working with the NTA, releasing the album “For the Love of You”. Originally a secular artist, she now sings mainly gospel music, and continues to write and sing about issues such as health (HIV/AIDS), peace and mutual coexistence, respect for women rights and the plight of children. Her latest effort titled, “Inspiration for Change,” focuses on the need for an attitudinal turn around in Nigeria.
Pulse has reached out to reps of Iroking for comments. This report will be updated when that is supplied.