Tony Elumelu drags publisher, two others to court

Chairman of United Bank for Africa, UBA, Tony Elumelu

The Chairman of United Bank for Africa Plc, UBA, Mr Tony Oyemaechi Elumelu who is also the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation has dragged a publisher, Mr Uju Onyechere before a Federal high court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria for allegedly passing off a book entitled Tony Elumelu Straight From The Guts.

Joined as co-defendants in the ensuing legal warfare are, a Lagos businessman Mr Fabian Chima Eni and Divine Care Pharmaceutical Company Limited.

 

In an affidavit sworn to by a legal practitioner Mr Osinowo Kolawole and filed before the court by the law firm of Tokunbo Orimobi the deponent averred that, over the years Mr Tony Elumelu through doggedness and hard work had acquired substantial reputation with the name “Tony Elumelu” in connection with his person and brand as the name has become well known in the Nigerian and global banking and finance industry.

Apart from being the founder of Tony Elumelu foundation, he is also respected in high esteem in the following capacities, as chairman of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, TNC; chairman Heirs Holding Limited, a foremost Nigerian economist, a philanthropist, entrepreneur and author.

However sometimes in October 2017, it came to the plaintiff’s attention via an anonymous tip that Divine Care Pharmaceutical Limited was displaying and offering for sale to the general public a book entitled “Tony Elumelu Straight Fro The Guts” with international standard book Number 978 978 917 108-8 at its office number 32, Enitan Street, Aguda Surulere Lagos State.

Mr Kolawole averred further that Mr Tony Elunelu is not the author, publisher or a distributor of the said offending book and neither is anyone, including any of the defendants herein or any other person, natural or incorporated entity, authorised, permitted or licensed to author, publish,sell or offer for sale any such book.

Being seriously perturbed and concerned about the existence of the said offending book, as same constitutes an infringement of the plaintiff ‘s brand, trademark, name and goodwill, he detailed some people to investigate Fabian Chima Eni’s place of business.

However, by the time the plaintiff’s representatives arrived at his premises, most copies of the book had been sold off, but a copy of the book being offered for sale was purchased from the office of Divine Care Pharmaceutical Limited.

It was also discovered that Fabian Chima Eni was also partaking in the passing off against the plaintiff.

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Consequently on 17 October 2017, the plaintiff’s representative traced him to his bookshop at number 81 Imomo Nla Road, AP Bus Stop, Off Ijede Road, Ikorodu, Lagos State where upon a covert enquiry, Fabian Chima Eni confirmed to the plaintiff’s representative that he has a large stockpile of the book for sale.

The defendants were alleged to have deliberately published and continued retailing the book and have been benefiting undeservedly from passing off the name, goodwill and reputation of the plaintiff which have been built over the past twenty years from his personal and professional sojourn.

By the reason of the action of the defendants without the consent of the plaintiff, there has been great confusion on the general public as to the authorship of the book.

The defendants, by way of publishing the offending book and in a design to confuse the general public with regards to the authorship of same, represented at various pages of the book with the clear intention to confuse and achieve their aim of passing off the said book as the plaintiff’s created an impression that Mr Tony Elumelu sanctioned the publication with his name with quotes ascribe to it.

In view of the foregoing, the plaintiff is seeking for the order of the court restraining the defendants and their agents, from distributing, advertising, selling, offering or displaying for sale, or otherwise howsoever merchandising the book entitled Tony Elumelu Straight From The Guts at any location in Nigeria.

The presiding judge, Babs Kiewumi has adjourned till 13th of March 2018,for the hearing of the suit.