Legal Drama

Should D’Banj Sue Allhiphop.com? Website With 35Million Monthly Pageviews Inaccurately Portrays D’Banj With “. . .D’banj Accused Of Credit Card Fraud!” Headline

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“G.O.O.D Music Artists D’banj and Don Jazzy At Odds With Each Other; D’banj Accused Of Credit Card Fraud!” is the headline that Allhiphop.com, a highly influential American music website with over 35million page views a month, ran yesterday. The part “D’Banj Accused of Credit Card Fraud” has since gone viral and continues to. Watching the JJC clip, nowhere does his comments accuse D’Banj of “credit card fraud.” So why does Allhiphop.com presume and attribute this statement to JJC and D’Banj? I’ll get back to this later.

In the meantime, what a way for D’Banj to be introduced to the American music market and audience. If he wanted attention, he certainly got it. Americans are already afraid of “Nigerian scammers” thanks to 60 Minutes and now they are supposed to fall in love with an ex-fraudster? Forget the fact that millions worship the feet of Jay-Z who was by Jay-z’s account involved in shady/criminal dealings before attaining wealth the clean way. D’Banj is an African and worse a Nigerian ex-scammer so “God forbid bad thing!” as we Nigerians would say.

Before I return to the Allhiphop.com capitalization of the stereotypes of Nigerians, I gotta have a quick talk with all AML Nigerian fashion and entertainment industry people reading this.

***Folks, for Nigerians in Nigeria, you don’t live in America. We, Nigerian-Americans, do. Over a span of time, many in Nigeria have succeeded in painting Nigerians as 419fraudsters (white collar crime specialists) that prey on White American “mugus.” Independent of the stigmatization as fraudsters in the USA, I hear our reputation is a complete mess in South Africa as well. We are known, it is alleged, as drug pushers and persons who commit violent acts against innocent South African citizens. The reputation is not any better in the UK, from my understanding. Indeed, I recall back in the 90s when I visited the UK, way before I finished college much less became a practicing attorney. I was up late, in the UK, watching television when I saw the UK Police, on television, detain an older Nigerian woman. They were convinced she had ingested bags of cocaine.

To make the long story short, they waited for very long hours until she excreted and after her excretion, sure enough, she had ingested the bags of cocaine alleged. The feature then spent time discussing the criminal scheme that Nigerians often engage in, according to the UK police. As bad as the above is, for me, the worse was when I traveled to Nigeria in the early 2000s. I will never forget how Nigerians got stripped and searched by KLM staff in Amsterdam. I was so taken aback I approached one of the staff to ask why such a strip and search. She informed me that “many” Nigerians regularly traveled with drugs so they had to be thorough with their searches. I was sad and also angry.

Over time, we have added to our stigmatized rap sheet (criminal record) as drug pushers, 419 fraudsters and now bombers . . Boko Haram et al. Guess who has to deal with the repercussions? Those of us living here in the USA. It used to be when I would tell someone I was Nigerian-American, they would beam and tell me great stories of Nigerians they know, their wonderful experiences etc. Now, majority of the time, I get asked if I am aware of the “Nigerian fraud scams,” even from some of my legal colleagues on their first time meeting me. My personality being what it is (Taurus), y’all can already guess I don’t entertain the nonsense much less explain myself or my people. I am proudly Nigerian-American, 419 or not. Yes, I check the nonsense some of my people make the mistake of trying to bring to my doorsteps but my passion for law and justice did NOT come from America. My values and the core and essence of who I am did not come from America. It came from a solid Nigerian society and upbringing. It just is what it is.

Over the past five years, the negative stereotypes of Africans in general has driven me to sacrifice inordinate amount of time away from family and friends to tell the story of Africans and the Africa (Nigeria) I grew up in via my platform Ladybrille. I have done it because I am compelled to. I chose the medium that I felt could best communicate who we truly are, fashion and entertainment. In the USA, I was one of  the very lone voices doing so five years ago. Within the past five years, we have seen Africa’s fashion and entertainment industries RISE and a revolution has taken place and continues to and there are now many voices doing so. Thanks to new media, we now tell the stories of the real Africa that they never show on Western TV. We refute negative things said about us and the world has no choice but to deal with it.

Many of the world’s citizens do not want to lose out so they have changed the rhetoric and fallen inline. They now know the old tired stupid stories about Africans is simply NOT going to increase their bottom line, even if it has in the past. Indeed you see many Western companies clamoring over each other from media to entertainment to open subsidiaries/ do business in Africa, Nigeria in particular.

Our entertainers, especially Nigerian entertainers, have been instrumental in churning the stories that we the media, bloggers et. al have shared with the global village on and offline to rebrand who we are as a people and continent.

However, the same entertainers are now also effectively dragging the name of a country and its citizens through the mud. I believe our entertainers have an obligation to brand us appropriately in the eyes of the world. Their job is not limited to just making money. Their influence and how they use it affects the future, our children. If they don’t like the responsibility of putting their best foot forward on the global music map, then they should fall back and quit with being entertainers. Otherwise, it comes with the territory and they should expect to be held accountable.

Now I get to the heart of the matter. The pattern and practice of airing our dirty laundry in public has to stop and I intend to make it my business to call out those who do these. In Fashion, recently, Terrence Sambo of One Nigerian Boy did this in the Wana Sambo v. L’Espace dispute. It was absolutely unacceptable and frankly he had no business meddling in the private business law relationship of designers and retailer L’Espace. We also saw designer Adebayo Jones and before that Dencia and the Nigerian fashion retailer she did business with do this. Since Terrence, Adebayo Jones and the Dencia saga, we have seen D’Banj and Don Jazzy do the same, mostly because they ran a dysfunctional house and experienced leaked emails, among other things. When employees are leaking emails and such persons cannot be tracked and punished/held liable via the legal justice system, that is an indication of running a dysfunctional company.

The latest display of air your dirty laundry in the public is JJC’s rant that D’Banj was a 419’er and ran from the police. Raise your hands if you have never returned the favor to someone who hurt you? You won’t see my hands going up. We all do that or have done that at some point in our lives. Life is what it is. We, however, should not be running to the media to spill all the gory details of the past of a person that has hurt us.

D’Banj was VERY wrong to say JJC cheated Don Jazzy to the media. Truthfully, majority of us were caught up with the actual dispute with D’Banj and Don Jazzy that the information seemed insignificant, albeit it defamatory and libelous.

As I have said before, D”Banj is a walking liability for himself, Kanye West, GOOD Music and Island Def Jam. I have discussed this issue in the past and won’t belabor the point. I urged D’banj to hire a Publicist and a great one right here on AML. D’Banj has since hired Vanessa Amadi, a Nigerian-British Publicist based in the UK. I think he needs to pay her a LOT of money because she has a lot of mess to clean up. I also believe Ms. Amadi needs to put her hair up (figuratively speaking), roll her sleeves and begin getting a bit more control of her client.

Nevertheless, despite all that D’Banj said (whether defamatory/libelous/slanderous or otherwise), JJC was very wrong to go off the way he did on camera for the world to see. He has a right to be very angry. He has a right to clear his name. However, it would have been enough to state through video or written press release that he NEVER cheated Don Jazzy; and in fact paid Don Jazzy one thousand pounds a month for his work for a whole year. He could then sue D’Banj who is NOW very rich for defamation, slander, among other causes  of action he deems applicable. He can sue D’Banj in the UK where that interview was conducted. He can also sue the newspaper for libel, especially if D’Banj should deny he ever said such a thing.

I say all of this to say the world is watching, as I have said gazillion times. It is ridiculous to underestimate the powerful influence that you AML industry artists have. D’Banj is clearly an important name so much so that Allhiphop.com ran a story on his feud with Don Jazzy and then made up the “credit card fraud” part while they were at it.

Since January 2012, D’Banj has been in the news. Allhiphop.com has ignored every statement until the buzz word the West seems to love these days when it comes to Nigerians, “419er.” This immediately conjures up for a publication like Allhiphop.com in their minds, “credit card fraud.”

Again, we need to stop airing our dirty laundry in public. There is a court of law to sue. The discussions and anything you tell your lawyers are protected by the ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE. When your attorneys go to court to fight for you, they should do it with finesse and style. If they don’t, get another lawyer. We really need to curb this behavior. Why the need to always attack each other in public about private dealings that happened behind closed doors? Are we the only ones in the world that have issues? Other groups don’t appear to air their laundry the way we do.

I don’t think this will stop until people start getting sued. I for one will be very happy when that happens.

What Does all of these Mean for D’Banj & What can D’Banj do now?

1. This is REALLY bad PR for D’Banj. He needs to hire the best PR team and if he feels he has, then PR needs to step on it because there is a lot to clean up.There is an allegation of 419 fraud even before he makes his debut to a very important music market, America. Working around that statement in a diplomatic way should be the order of the day to limit the impact of this story that has/will be seen by Allhiphop.com’s 37million monthly viewers.

2. D’Banj can sue JJC for defamation/slander etc. only if JJC’s statements are untrue. If it is not, then he needs to be quiet and get out of our faces for a while. He also needs to understand he has “deep pockets” which means people would love to sue him because they can make money. He needs to learn to keep people’s names out of his interviews. AML artists, if you have nothing positive to say about your colleagues,  zip it.  Take a page from Don Jazzy’s handling of all of these fiasco. If they do something wrong to you, get a lawyer. People do not mess with you and they know not to mess with  you when your lawyers step in.

3. D’Banj can sue Allhiphop.com. JJC said D’Banj was a 419’er. That is a broad term that could mean many things. Allhiphop.com made up a story of “credit card fraud.” If they cannot substantiate that claim, then they have effectively defamed D’Banj.  Them saying JJC accused D’Banj of “credit card fraud” would then be false; and the “accused” part does not exonerate them from the immense damage they have caused or will cause in injuring his reputation. 35million monthly viewers? Where did Allhiphop.com get the “credit card fraud” statement from? What facts did they they use to run such a headline?

4. D’Banj should hope the UK police do not go digging. Depending on the statue of limitations and the kinds of alleged crimes committed in the past, a closed case can be reopened by the police. Typically, most police departments in the US and foreign Western countries re-open a cold case where murder/homicide is concerned. It is unusual to see the police reopen a non-homicide case.

5. Finally, D’Banj needs to rebuild his credibility. One of the worst things to be accused of, besides murder, has to be a crime that involves trust and a veracity for truthfulness i.e. fraud, embezzlement, larceny etc. Here D’Banj is asking or soon to ask the American public to trust him  into their homes and lives; yet according to JJC and now Allhiphop.com he has shown, allegedly, that he cannot be trusted or truthful. It is a bit of a tall order.

*Sigh* What a year 2012 has been in Nigeria’s music industry and we are not even through yet. *Sighs again.*

-Uduak

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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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