A Lagos High Court has awarded Juju legend, King Sunny Ade a whopping N500million as damages, thirty years after he instituted a suit against African Songs and its subsidiary, Take Your Choice Stores, for infringing on his works. The court also awarded him an additional N3million for expenses incurred while prosecuting the suit. In the statement of claim filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN, in 1975, the lawyer claimed a contract dispute arose between King Suny Ade and the two companies culminating in a judgement delivered by Justice Dosunmu of a Lagos High Court.
In the said judgement the court ordered the companies to return the master tapes of the original musical works produced under the label of the two companies by Sunny Ade, but before the master tape could be returned the chairman chief Executive Office of the two companies Chief Bolarinwa Abioro died.
Consequently, in a bid to retrieve the master Tapes Sunny Ade in 1997 dragged the two companies before a federal high court in Lagos.
Joined as co-defendants in the suits were; Lati Alagbada,Record manufacturing Nigeria Limited, Ibukunola Printers, Alhaja Awawu Ade Amodu and M.O. Alagbada, who he alleged have been using the master tapes to produce inferior qualities of his musical works and sell them to members of the public thereby depriving him of his means of livelihood.
He contended that he was the author, composer, and producer of all the musical works numbering about 22. He therefore demanded for damages in the sum of N1 Billion jointly and severally and prayed the court to order the two companies to return to him his master tapes as well as restraining the defendants from infringing on his musical works.
In a defence and counter claim filed by the two companies, they claimed that since Sunny Ade has been paid royalties by the companies he cannot lay claim to the tapes again. According to them, the contract he signed with the two companies does not include returning of the master tapes to him. Consequently, they urged the court to award N5million against Sunny Ade and in their favour.
In his judgement, Justice James Tsoho while dismissing the counter claim of the two companies for lack of merit, ordered the two companies to pay Sunny Ade and his band the sum of N500milion.
The judge also ordered that the master tapes should be returned to Sunny Ade since it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is the owner of the copyright.