By Gbenga Bada
COLLECTIVE Management Organisations in Nigeria have reacted to an alleged report from KPMG after auditing the Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria, AVRS, and Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON.
In 2019, the Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, under its DG, John Asien, directed KPMG to audit COSON and AVRS’ accounts. Asien had said the steps are expected to guarantee transparency and restore the confidence of concerned stakeholders in Nigeria’s collective management system amongst other things.
However, on April 1, an online news platform, New Dawn, published a special report allegedly from KPMG on how the CMOs have been swindling right owners. The report has since been pulled down after the AVRS reacted to the allegations raised in the report.
According to the report, the Audiovisual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS) is listed among CMOs in Nigeria that has “collected a total sum of N1.5b as royalties/licensing fees from right users” and “distributed N238.1m to the right owners” between January 2017 and December 2018.
The report went further to state that within the period, AVRS “raked in N7.5m as licensing fees and N53.1m from other sources of income out of which it spent N58.5m while it got nothing as royalty and equally distributed nothing to its members.”
Furthermore, the report states that the CMOs all “spent above the mandatory 30% of their revenue which they are allowed by the law establishing them to spend out of what they collected for running cost and other administrative expenses.”
Reacting to the report – allegedly from KPMG – Olubukola Adeyemi, AVRS’
Acting General Manager denied the report in its entirety.
Adeyemi said, “For the records, we wish to state categorically that the foregoing figures as contained in the report are false and misleading. AVRS never received a dime either as licensing fees or royalties within the period.
In other words, no ‘revenue’ accrued to the Company in the context of income as said in the report, to which the regulatory provision of a 30% spending limit could apply.
It is on record that the only financial inflow to AVRS at the period came from the funding support it received from the Norwegian Copyright Development Organization (NORCODE) and Innovative Distribution Fund (IDF) from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigeria following its successful application to those organizations.
The funds received from NORCODE and IDF were for the specific purposes of infrastructure expansion and advocacy including stakeholder engagements to engender copyright compliance.
The use of the funds was rigorously monitored, evaluated and audited by the donors and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC); copies of reports in this regard are still available.
“Punuka and KPMG only met with the Acting GM, Mrs. Bukola Adeyemi and Chairman of AVRS, Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun on Wednesday 18th of March, 2020 at the AVRS office in their bid to carry out the forensic audit. They were fully briefed and furnished with necessary documents that will facilitate their audit,” Adeyemi said.