Ugwu was CEO of the now defunct streaming platform, iROKING between August 2012 and October 2013 when he exited his role.
On November 13, 2020, the CEO of FreeMe Digital, Michael Ugwu took to his Instagram page to announce that he had been acquitted of all charges brought against him by iROKO Partners – led by co-founder and CEO, Jason Njoku.
Ugwu was CEO of the now defunct streaming platform, iROKING between August 2012 and October 2013 when he exited his role. Since then, Ugwu and his former employers have been embroiled in a seven-year legal battle. Ugwu was sued by iROKO Partners iafter he was dismissed from his role at iROKING.
The legal battle is said to have hit both a Federal High Court and a National Industrial Court. During the battle, Ugwu counter-claimed for his unpaid October 2013 salary and the court granted his claim with a 10% interest per annum.
You can read his full statement below;
In 2013, a statement signed by Jessica Hope for iROKING revealed that Ugwu was in fact fired from his job as CEO of the company.
A number of the iROKING staff have also been dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct. This action, alongside the dismissal of Michael Ugwu, was taken by the iROKO Management team in order to protect the intellectual property and reputation of our online music platform, as well as our artists’ work.
“As part of an organisation-wide restructure, we have decided to streamline the iROKING team based in Lagos, and have now redistributed a number of the core tasks across our global teams in London and New York. These changes have been made in order to make the strategic and day-to-day running of iROKING more effective and productive.
Those who left the company have been given a generous six weeks’ severance pay, which is 50% more than stated in their employee contracts.
“iROKING, as one of Nigeria’s leading digital music platforms, continues to showcase some of the country’s most prolific and exciting artists. Since launch, we have recorded over 350 Million YouTube hits for our artists and we have over 1.1 Million users downloading tracks from our online and mobi platforms every month.
At this time, it remains to be seen whether an appeal is a possibility. A few days ago, Njoku posted pictures of himself in a wheelchair as he battles an COVID-19. In the final week of October 2020, reports surfaced that Njoku and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19.
The statement read, “We can confirm that Michael Ugwu is no longer the CEO of iROKING and has left the company. He was dismissed earlier this month with immediate effect for gross misconduct.
“It came to light that, whilst under contract and salary of iROKING, Michael Ugwu set up and launched his own digital music platform, in direct competition with iROKING. This is an unequivocal breach of the robust non-compete and confidentiality clause he signed when he joined the iROKO team. We will not be divulging any further details on the subject matter for legal reasons.