Two record labels are currently battling each other in a lawsuit, and popular gospel singer Tope Alabi is right in the middle of it.
A United States based label owner Tajudeen Bioku (Chairman/CEO of NPC Records) has dragged Alabi’s former record label owner Deaconess Biodun Ibitola (owner of Remdel Optimum Communication Limited) to court, over the alleged illegal production of Alabi’s album ‘Angeli Mi’
Bioku is seeking N150m being the amount due to the company as royalties from the production and replication and sales of 20 million copies of the Audio CD-Cassette work.
The suit was filed at the Lagos State High Court with Suit Number ID/1373/2011 under Justice I.O. Kasali, through his counsel Bolaji Mustapha of Bola Mustapha & Co. The case was recently heard for ‘Substituted Service’ on June 18.
Bioku says that he came in contact with Tope Alabi back in 2005 and signed her to his company’s record label, NPC Records.
Bioku says he asked Alabi if she was under any record label, and she told him that she was formerly signed with Remdel Optimum Communication Limited (ROCL), owned by the defendant Biodun Ibitola, but that her three year contract with the label had ended in July, 2004.
When he asked for a Certificate of Release from the singer in order to guarantee that she was no longer under any record label at the time, she was unable to produce one, claiming that Ibitola had ‘refused to issue her the certificate and was bent on frustrating her since she was not interested in renewing the contract with her.’
Mr. Bioku went on to say that after he told the singer that he wouldn’t be able to sign her on unless the certificate was produced, Alabi then suggested that his label produce albums as specially commissioned projects, instead of being signed under the label.
‘Alabi did produce the albums and was paid accordingly by me’, Bioku says. ‘I was about releasing the record titled “Angeli mi” after enough publicity to ensure patronage/acceptance by the general public when I discovered that ROCL had gone to replicating companies and also used media propaganda to diffuse the mind of the general public over the releasing of the record work to the public.’
The lawsuit states that the defendant (ROCL) claims that she still had a standing agreement with the artiste (Tope Alabi) and therefore Bioku did not have right to release a recorded work of the Artist under any company other than Remdel Optimum Communication Limited.
Bioku says Alabi insisted upon questioning that she did not have any ties with ROCL. When he demanded for the contractual agreement between Alabi and ROCL, she (Ibitola) ‘refused, failed and neglected to produce the agreement.’
Bioku explains that in order for him not to lose out totally, he decided to allow ROCL to release the ‘Angeli mi‘ on its record label under a master license agreement. The master License Agreement was executed by both parties, and the agreement was for a period of three years, from July 7, 2007 –July 7, 2010.
ROCL were to pay the sum of N7 per Audio CD or Cassette produced or replicated to the his company as royalties from the record. ROCL were also to render a statement of account from the replicating companies for the record produced, to enable both parties ascertain what was due as royalties.
The lawsuit says Ibitola and her company refused, neglected and failed to pay.
Last year, acting upon the information provided by Bioku, the Economic and Financial Crimes Comission arrested Ibitola and detained her for hours in an attempt to retrieve the master tapes. Ibitola reacted by suing Bioku and the EFCC.
The case has been adjourned for Mention till September 25, 2012.
Source: Nigerian Entertainment Today