Legal Drama

Girl you need to cut it! Maje Ayida threatens to sue Toke Makinwa over her book ‘On Becoming’

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Unresolved childhood trauma or trauma, in general, is horrific. It can leave you completely insecure, even as an adult, having to pursue the kinds of relationships where you need validation. It can leave you with a bad case of codependency where you believe you are never good enough and have you attracting narcissistic personalities until you make the deliberate choice to face your demons and heal. Nevertheless, your co-dependency and your voluntary willingness to choose and participate in a relationship with a narcissist are not enough, I believe, to have you write a “must tell” or “tell-all” accusing one of those narcissists you married and his mistress of having a sexually transmitted disease (STD). There are many ways to monetize your pain, including writing a book. But, absent direct proof, on your part, showing your narcissistic ex-husband gave you STD, you should get sued when you publish such highly inflammatory and defamatory accusations.

So, AML people, as you all know, last year when Toke Makinwa wrote her tell-all book titled ‘On Becoming’ about her ex-husband Maje Ayida and made the accusations above, I predicted he would sue.

If you missed my legal commentary and analysis, catch up —-> Warning: Toke Makinwa’s ex-husband Maje Ayida may sue her for claiming he gave her STD in her new memoir

Ayida has now sent a demand letter to Makinwa to cease and desist publishing  the defamatory statements and to take existing defamatory statements contained in her book off physical and digital bookshelves, or else face a lawsuit. The demand letter was dated December 30, 2016, but it is unclear when she received it or if the lawsuit has actually been filed. However, here are several quick things to observe and address about the demand letter:

1. Why sue now after Makinwa has sold thousands of copies of her book across Africa and in the diaspora?

  • You sue because you now have damages to collect from the sale of all those books.
  • You sue now, if you are Ayida, because you may not have anticipated the huge and detrimental impact the book’s defamatory statements would have on your reputation and livelihood. Now you understand the gravity and foresee it only gets worse.

What’s Toke Makinwa’s response to the demand letter? “The Lord shall fight for you and you shall hold your peace,” is the message she has shared on a social media post which has been interpreted by many as a response.

I think Makinwa is playing the victim card, yet again, and refusing to own responsibility for her own actions. She chose to stay in a relationship she knew from the onset was very bad and while we may feel pity for her because we all have been in a bad relationship at one point or another, Makinwa is interesting. She, for a long time, dubbed herself a relationship expert on You Tube, and advised women to leave the exact type of relationship she was in, never revealing, at any point, that she was in the same mess and chose to stay until the news story broke. When the world finally found out the real deal about her situation, she did not address her audience to explain why she told them to take the steps she had failed to take in her relationship. She simply wrote a book and told us her ex-husband gave her STD, among other things. Smart move for a savvy business woman who knows how to monetize her pain.

So, it’s good to call on the name of the Lord but if we get technical here, since Makinwa is choosing to bring religion into this, then she should not have written her book. Why? Well, what would Jesus do? Wouldn’t he expect Makinwa to forgive and say, “go and sin no more Maje?” Plus, even if he chose to spread the word about Ayida’s sins in a “must-tell” story for commercial gain, wouldn’t he expect Makinwa to tell the story without accusing Ayida of giving her and his mistress Anita Solomon STD? I mean how did Jesus handle the prostitute at the well?

The point is we are always too quick to drag God into situations that we leave him out of when we should have placed him at the center, in the first place. But, thank God for mercy. So I suppose God will fight this battle for her, in the courtroom.

2. If you are Ayida, whether you win or not is irrelevant. This is a case you MUST sue and do the best you can to use the lawsuit as damage control. At a minimum, when people google your name now, they will see you filed a lawsuit in the top Google search results, not that you gave Makinwa and your mistress STD.

3. If you are Toke Makinwa you don’t continue to deliberately ignore and act like the demand letter isn’t there or that the lawsuit will not come. The fact that you do adds a willful aspect to your alleged wrongdoing leaving room for a Plaintiff, if he wins, to seek punitive damages.

4. Remember the basics of a libel lawsuit. To successfully prevail whether, in a Nigerian or U.S. court, on a libel claim, a Plaintiff must show the following:

  • That a statement was made by the Defendant.
  • That the statement was false.
  • That the false statement was published in writing, printing, picture or other fixed representation.
  • That the false statement was about the Plaintiff.
  • That the false statement exposed the Plaintiff to disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt or injured him/her in his/her occupation.
  • In the U.S., if the Plaintiff is a public official or public figure, he/she must prove malice.
  • Show and prove damages (the monetary loss)

5. Finally, in Nigerian courts, you must also plead the libelous statement verbatim i.e. reproduce the full statement or part of the statement you claim is libelous to you, regardless of length. (Truth, under U.S. and Nigerian law, is an absolute defense to a claim of libel).

Folks, I believe Ayida can easily meet the burden above because even if the alleged statements that Ayida had  STD and transferred it to Makinwa and Solomon are true, Makinwa has a proof problem. How does she prove it? She can I suppose always try to subpoena his medical records but that ain’t happening because absent his consent to his healthcare providers, or a court order, she simply can’t get her hands on anything.

She also claimed she came to the conclusion he had STD via a text exchange she snooped and found between him and his mistress. The text did not explicitly discuss having STD among the lovers. If she has such text, that may be proof but I highly doubt it is enough to defeat a libel claim against her. Bottom line folks, Makinwa can tell her story but she is not entitled to drag Ayida’s livelihood,  family and reputation into the mud, per the STD accusation, UNLESS she has “receipts.” Even then, that alleged STD revelation in her book was just plain tacky and bad judgment.

What are your thoughts? Should Maje Ayida sue?

-Ms. Uduak

UPDATE: Further press information received. It is a good move from Ayida’s standpoint to sue in the UK and Nigeria like it appears he is prepared to do. Let’s see how it all shakes out. Makinwa needs to move past continued defiance and get a strong legal team for what is sure to be a legal show down. 

“A drastic turn of the tide is imminent, following the emergence of incontrovertible evidence strongly indicating that Toke Makinwa’s account in her book “On Becoming” is not all there is to know about events leading up to her separation from her erstwhile husband Maje Ayida and that her book is nothing but an exaggerated fabrication. This most recent development has come to the fore on account of damning revelations discovered proving that Maje Ayida and Toke Makinwa were legally separated 6 months into the marriage.

The leading defamation law firm in the UK, Carter Ruck, lawyers to top figures like Elton John, Simon Cowell, Chelsea Football Club and The State of Qatar have recently taken up Maje Ayida as one of their clients and in a warning letter addressed to Toke Makinwa on the 23rd of December 2016 highlighted a number of excerpts from the book that were untrue, specifically quoting as follows:

“… We highlight the fact that our client requested a legal separation from you within 6 months of your wedding to him in January 2014, when it became clear that the marriage was breaking down. A separation agreement was formally signed by you in July 2014…”

“It is therefore well documented that our client and you had agreed to separate by July 2014 (a matter which the book signally fails to record), and that this was, self-evidently far more than ‘’teething’’ difficulties as the book misleadingly describes the circumstances at the time.”

Also, heading the legal front in Nigeria is Kemi Pinhero SAN, whose firm has also served Toke Makinwa a letter, corroborating the issues raised by Carter Ruck letter and specifically demanding among other things that she:

“Withdraw from circulation all copies of the book and take immediate steps to call in all copies of the book already distributed and deliver up same at the place to be agreed upon by our client for destruction.”

“Retract or cause to be retracted the said published words and tender an unreserved apology to our client by publishing the said apology in one full page insertion in three national dailies to wit: ThisDay, The Guardian and Punch Newspaper and on all your social media platforms including Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook.”

Further stating that failure to comply with all of the demands will result in the commencement of legal action.

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Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law blog and podcast show by Fashion and Entertainment Lawyer Ms. Uduak Oduok empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia.

Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the prestigious Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.
For legal representation inquiries, please email (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). For blog related inquiries i.e. advertising, licensing, or guest interview requests, please email (africamusiclaw@gmail.com). Thank you for visiting Africa Music Law™.

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