Veteran musician asks court to jail KECOBO honchos Joshua Kutuny, Edward Sigei
Legendary musician Justus Manthi Ngemu has moved to the high court seeking the detention of Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) chairman Joshua Kutuny and the body’s Executive Director Mr Julius Sigei.
In his fresh application, the Siasa Mbaya Maisha Mbaya singer accuses Kutuny and Sigei of contempt of court after KECOBO reinstated operating licenses to the three Collective Management Organizations just days after the high court had rescinded the licenses.
Kutuny reinstated the operating licenses for the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK), Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), and Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) that had been revoked by Lady Justice Hedwig Ong’udi.
Justice Ong’udi cancelled all three licenses issued by KECOBO after she found its Executive Director Mr Sigei at fault for issuing the permits.
In her ruling, the judge stated that Mr Sigei circumvented the law by choosing to overstep his mandate when he issued the licenses.
Permit issuance is a preserve of the board’s responsibilities, but when Mr Sigei issued them this year to the three CMOs’ there was no board in place.
Justice Hedwing had ruled that until such a time there is a properly constituted KECOBO board, then fresh licenses could be issued as per the Copyrights Act 2010 dictation.
However, less than a week after assuming his role as the new chairperson of KECOBO following President William Ruto’s appointment, Mr Kutuny reinstated the three licenses albeit temporarily for a period of six months.
While reinstating the licenses Mr Kutuny acknowledged Justice Hewing’s ruling.
But Ngemu now claims in a fresh application before Justice Enock Mwita, that the move is in contempt of Justice Hedwing earlier ruling.
“The issuance of these licenses despite the prohibitive order issued by this Honorable Court amounts to willful and intentional disobedience of this Honorable Court’s orders that were made in a judgment delivered with the 1st respondent’s (KECOBO) legal representative present in court,” Ngemu says in his application.
Ngemu maintains that Kutuny and Sigei reinstated the licenses without their being a properly constituted KECOBO board as it had been earlier ruled.
“I know of my own knowledge that there is no properly constituted Board of Directors and the contemnors actions are illegal and actionable. The recent appointment of Mr Joshua Kutuny does not constitute a properly constituted board. A properly constituted board must include all the stakeholders provided in the Copyright Act. There has been no appointment of the other board members which point was admitted in the proceedings and a finding made in the (earlier) judgment,” Ngemu argues.
What he is now seeking from the court is for Justice Mwita to suspend the ‘provisional’ licenses issued on 8th November 2023, by Mr Kutuny and Sigei pending the hearing and determination of this case.
In addition, Mr Ngemu’s prayers to the High Court are,
“that Mr Sigei and Kutuny be detained at Industrial Area g.K prison in Nairobi or rehabilitation facility for a period of six months of such period and on terms as the court may determine,”