By Akin Kuponiyi
A Federal High Court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria has adjourned till 27th of March, 2018 for hearing a N340 million suit filed against Cornerstone Insurance Company, and one of its subsidiary, Cornerstone Assurance by a Nigerian actor, Mr Ahmed Afolabi Roleola for alleged unauthorized use and exploitation of his photographs and goodwill in their promotional adverts in the form of handbills,posters and brochure calculated to mislead and deceive the public and an infringement of his right to publicity.
Joined as co-defendant is Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON.
In a statement of claim filed before the court in Lagos by his lawyer, Oluwakemi Balogun SAN, Roleola who is nationally acclaimed and recognized as a modelling icon who over the years has established his name within and outside Nigeria as a model, personality and brand in modelling business, averred that sometimes in 2009, he saw advertorials containing his photographs in the form of handbills and posters used by the defendants to promote and advertise their policy tagged “Mortgage Protection Plan, both within and outside the country without his consent, knowledge and approval.
When he discovered the unauthorized used of his photographs and good will by the defendants, he mandated his solicitors to write letter to the defendants expressing his displeasure on the unauthorized used of his photographs and demanded compensation, but the defendants ignore his demands, while another letter written to the defendants was also ignored.
The plaintiff averred that the Insurance company has financially benefited well over N1 billion from the sale of their products using the plaintiff ‘s photograph and goodwill.
Consequently, the plaintiff urged the court to enter judgment in his favour in the sum of N240 million being his entitlement from the sale of the defendants products and all other goodwill used to promote their benefits, using the plaintiff goodwill to promote their various products from 2008 till date.
The plaintiff also wanted the sum of N100 million as General damages for the unauthorized use of the actor’s photograph.
He sought an order of the court directing APCON to prevail on the Cornerstone Insurance Plc and Cornerstone Life Assurance to ensure the payment of the plaintiff ‘s entitlement and apply sanctions where appropriate.
However, APCON, in its statement of defence filed before the court by Okorie Micheal Okpei stated that its functions to regulate the practice of advertising in Nigeria in all its aspect and ramification did not include the creating, making, execution of contractual relationship or enforcement of contracts or obligation between the plaintiff and any third party.
Consequently APCON urged the court to demise the suit of the plaintiff against it with substantial cost of N180 million against the plaintiff in his favour being the cost of defending the suit.