Singer and music producer, Ikwan Onwuka aka Iyke Onka is angry. He is also terribly disappointed; and right now, he’s at the edge of depression.
Nine years after the gospel artiste inked a recording deal with Loveworld Records, he is yet to get a dime as royalties. In a recent chat with TS Weekend, Onka, an indigene of Abia State, described his experience at the hands of Loveworld Records, an affiliation of Believers Loveworld aka Christ Embassy, as harrowing, disgusting and tragic.
“It is tragic that after nine years of inking a contract with Loveworld Records, I am yet to get a dime in royalties even though they exploited my works. I have done everything humanly possible to engage the record label but they have totally ignored me. I am now heartbroken and that is why I have run to the press,” he lamented.
Once upon a dream
Onka must have been a very happy man when in 2009 officials of Loveword Records approached him for a recording deal. Recalling that meeting, he said: “I entered into the contract with Loveworld Records Limited on a purely business level. My first album did pretty well and I was aiming at improving on that performance in my second album. I spent my time, talent, skill and financial resources in producing the musical works only for Loveworld Records and its handlers to rob me of the fruits of my labour.
“As a full-time musician, I was subjected to immense financial difficulty due to the fraudulent behaviour of Loveworld Records. The adverse effects of this huge and unexpected disappointment spilled into other aspects of my life, but I would rather not narrate here what I had to put up with.”
Narrating how it all began, Onka said sometime in the third quarter of 2009, while finalising the production of his sophomore album, the Chief Operating officer of Loveworld Records Limited, Mr Ehi Moses had approached him to consider signing up with the label.
“I gave it a good thought, weighing the cons of signing with a relatively young record label against the pros of the label’s potential in the industry. I also considered the fact that the company held affiliation with Believers Loveworld aka Christ Embassy, the church I was fellowshipping with at that time. Directors of Loveworld Records Limited, who happened to be senior pastors and well-placed members of Christ Embassy Church, also fostered a level of confidence in my dealings with Loveworld Records. So, I assented to the initial proposal of the Chief Operating Officer of Loveworld Records Limited, Mr Ehi Moses,” he explained.
A few days later, Onka’s joy knew no bound as he received a draft of the contract agreement from Loveworld Records for his perusal. He went back and forth on the terms, had a couple of meetings and in October 2009, both parties finally reached a deal. And precisely on October 10, 2009, a recording contract was signed between Onka and Loveworld Records Limited.
Onka further revealed that Loveworld Records Limited was represented at the recording contract agreement as an “organization that specializes in the management, production, recording, distribution, promotion, marketing, and representation of musical artists”.
According to the musician, the directors of Loveworld Records Limited listed in the contract were Evangelist Kathy Oyakhilome, Pastor Tom Obiaze, Pastor Linda Okocha, Pastor Ose Oyakhilome, Pastor Mary Owase, Pastor Sola Olubode and Deacon Emeka Anene while the signatories for Loveworld Records Limited were Mr Ehi Moses, Chief Operating Officer and company secretary, A. A. Sogunle & Associates.
“I was so excited especially because of the caliber of people involved and its affiliations with Christ Embassy. I could see my dreams coming true,” Onka enthused.
The way the cookie crumbles
However, events took a tragic turn after Onka signed the contract. Hear him: “I began to notice signs of fraud a few weeks after signing the contract when Loveworld Records defaulted in paying the agreed sign-on fee of N2.5 million, which also covered my cost of producing the musical works included in the contract.
“I played down on the signs with the thought that I was dealing with an organisation owned and ran by good Christians whom I believed wouldn’t stoop so low to certain levels of business impropriety and dubiousness. I handed over the master tape of my second album titled ‘Fly High’ to Loveworld Records Limited after signing the contract and was expecting to receive the sign-on fee according to the terms of our contract. Surprisingly, Loveworld Records never paid but rather began exploiting and monetising my works. All I got were excuses, endless promises and lies. Meanwhile, my musical works were clearly being exploited and sold even beyond the regions agreed in our contract.”
Onka said aside the sign-on fee of N2.5 million, Loveworld Records was supposed to take 70 per cent of royalty on sales of his works and remit the remaining 30 per cent to him. However, they transacted and made profits from the musical works but never made any royalty payments to the musician.
“Loveworld Records shamelessly reaped 100 per cent of my royalties without paying a dime to me. They impudently breached our contract and displayed unacceptable levels of irresponsibility with regards to the agreement,” he stated.
Onka says that thrice, during the tenure of the contract and after, he instructed his solicitors to write Loveworld Records and request for his overdue sign-on fee and all accrued royalties. He also requested access to the company’s books and sales records. The letters were dated July 29, 2010, November 9, 2011 and March 2, 2012 but Loveworld Records treated all with levity.
“As at the time our contract expired, Loveworld Records Limited refused to pay both sign-on fee and accrued royalties. I was also kept out of the books of our deal. They arrogantly refused to take part in any arbitration as provided for in our contract and also made attempts to frustrate any legal action resulting from their breach. They went as far as claiming that Loveworld Records Limited no longer existed, contrary to the records of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and in clear contravention of Section 548 of the Companies & Allied Matters Act,” the artiste said.
Justice at last but…
Obviously frustrated, Onka resorted to the courts as the last arbiter. Precisely in June 2012, he filed a suit No. ID: 614/2012 at the High Court of Lagos State against Loveworld Records Limited as the first defendant, HNM Limited as the second defendant and Quartz Digital Limited as the third defendant. Though, it took four years for the court to reach a decision, justice finally came his way.
He said: “The High Court of Lagos State sitting before Hon. Justice O. A. Williams delivered judgment in my favour on the 16th of May 2016. The judge granted my plea and awarded claims to the sum of N55.8 million with 15% annual interest against Loveworld Records Limited. But since the judgment was delivered, Loveworld Records Limited has refused to take responsibility of its liability and judgment indebtedness.”
But why did it take him so long to cry out to the public? His response: “It took me this long because I believed, against all contrary evidence, that the handlers of Loveworld Records were reasonable and civilized people. I was totally wrong as it turned out that they were out to defraud me. I had initially resolved to handle this matter privately to avoid the usual public drama but I am now forced to go public with it. I also believe these fellows, not being able to sweep the matter under their huge carpet, could go to any length to silence me. Of course, I am not afraid of what they might possibly scheme against me. I just want the public to be aware of this evil and unjust exploitation.”
Mum from Loveworld
When TS Weekend called Evangelist Kathy Oyakhilome, a principal dircector of Love World Records for their own side of the story, mum’s the word. All phone calls and text messages sent to her were ignored and not responded to.
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