Singer drags Airtel to court over ‘unauthorised use’ of her hit song

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Veteran Nigerian singer, Veno Marioghae Mbanefo, has dragged a telecommunications company, Airtel Network Limited before the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos for “unauthorised use” of her musical work.

Mbanefo disclosed this in a statement sent to SaharaReporters on Tuesday.

The statement reads, “I, Veno Marioghae Mbanefo, found out a few months ago, that Airtel had been using my song, “Nigeria Go Survive,” to market their products, using their telemarketing numbers, without my permission.

“Following the discovery, I contacted my lawyer, Rockson Igelige of Felix, Igelige and Associates, who promptly wrote to them. Rather than look into our authentic claim, they responded by not only denying all culpability, but also defamed me and threatened criminal charges against me.

“We then took our case, backed by our witnesses, IT & Evaluation Specialist and evidence, to the Nigeria Copyright Commission which began an investigation into our claim. While the criminal investigation into our claim is still on, my lawyers and I are, however, filing a civil suit against Airtel on 23/9/22 at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos to show how they have flagrantly not only infringed on my copyright by using my song without permission, but have also brazenly denied all responsibility, despite all evidence.”

The veteran artiste earlier in a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Network Limited, Ikoyi, Lagos, accused the telecoms company of using her song, ‘Nigeria Go Survive’ to promote its TV app and ‘The Voice Nigeria’, without her permission.

The letter signed by her lawyer, R. A. Igelige Esq asked the telecoms company to “cease and desist forthwith from further infringing on the copyright of our Client to the aforementioned musical work”.

It also asked Airtel to “pay to our client the sum of N50,000,000 (Fifty Million Naira) for the unauthorised commercial and also derogatory use of her musical work”.

“Take notice that if we do not receive an adequate response within 21 days of receipt of this letter, we shall take all proper steps to seek legal remedy for our Client, including legal action for injunctive relief, criminal charges and damages, without further notice to you.

“We look forward, however, to your prompt response towards an amicable resolution of this matter,” it added.

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