Nigerian celebrities, like celebrities worldwide, know people will talk about them, regardless. Who is s/he dating? S/he is so arrogant. Did you see what s/he wore? His album was horrible etc. Really, it’s part of life. Deal with it. However, what happens when you get hit with vicious rumors that go beyond the ordinary to just plain “I will destroy you, your family and your village?” For example, did you read the story on Uche Jumbo earlier this year that circulated everywhere and claimed she “aborted” her six-month old child? That “ish” was not funny and by all accounts was traumatic for the actress. What about singer/actor Jim Iyke? Did you read the story that he allegedly contracted HIV/AIDS from his married Sierra Leone secret lover? Wow! Finally, who could forget Wande Coal’s allegedly naked pictures that circulated on twitter and the internet? Super embarrassing. Plus, assume the pictures were indeed Coal’s, he never gave permission for it to be republished on www.
Beyond the fact that these rumors are absolutely very injurious to the professional reputation of the personalities involved, it also, on a personal level, hurts these individuals who have done nothing wrong than to excel at their crafts. Here is how to nip that in the butt, online and “Yankee” style.
Dis One No Dey Happen For Naija O!
For those who say, “dis one no dey happen for Naija O!” You are definitely right. Dis one na Yankee. The rules are different on the internet and thankfully Naija celebrities, even while living in Naija, still have a strong and effective recourse to just “shut down” the whole wahala for good on the internet.
Blogger/website publishes a story that you are HIV+, aborted your baby or circulates allegedly nude photos of you on the internet. Identify the blogger/websites where it originated and the key sites carrying this rubbish/false information. Contact the owners and politely ask they delete the page and also recount the story to their audience because: 1) the information is FALSE or you did not give consent for your pictures to be circulated; and 2) if they don’t, you most likely will “shut down” their site and may even sue them. Before I go further, let’s get this straight. If the information is TRUE, it stays on. You can make all the noise you want or get all the lawyers you want, it stays on. If you can’t do the time in public jail i.e. media/bloggers or real jail, don’t do the crime. It’s that simple.
You didn’t really believe the owners of the site would do something about it, did you? Don’t expect those who publish inaccurate vicious rumors to take it down. So, guess what? YOU take it down for them.
How do you take down the site?
Log on to http://whois.domaintools.com/. On that site, identify two key things: 1) the name of the host company e.g. bluehost.com, hostgator, godaddy.com etc. 2) identify the administrator’s email. You should also see the full listed mailing address of the owner of the site, not all owners list it.
Contact the host. Let the host know the website owner(s) have violated the host rules on how the site is to be used. How do you know this? In Yankee, all hosting companies and frankly websites should and do have a terms and conditions that website users including publishers and bloggers “click to accept” to use their services. It is located on the bottom on the host webpage or you can google it. They typically have language that says you can’t use their site to injure people in this “tortious” manner. Doing so opens the website owners to liability from the host and persons injured as a result of the website owners’ actions.
NOTE: Companies like Godaddy, hostgator etc. have money. We trial lawyers call them “deep pocket defendants.” If they have notice and do not do something about it, then they are a party to a lawsuit and of course bad publicity. Unlike Naija companies on the ground in Naija, Yankee companies never want to be sued much less be around bad media publicity on their services. Typically, most hosting companies will remove or disable the information you claim is unauthorized anywhere from 24hrs to 1week. In a matter I handled, it was removed in less than 24hours. In addition, the hosting companies will send a warning to the the offending site owner(s) to take down the aggriegious content or at a minimal show why their site should not be suspended or else face it being “shut down.” That needless to say is your ultimate goal.
Task #1 completed, now on to the next big task, getting the information removed from GOOGLE. Google is the giant of search engines. Like the host companies, they have even “deeper pockets.” Trial lawyers like myself will tell you everyone wants to sue google. Google and their lawyers know it and do not want the drama.
Contact Google and your goal here is to have Google remove the website from its search engine so that the information does not appear in google search results. Just doing that alone is huge success. When you contact google, let them know your privacy has been invaded and if applicable, your copyright infringed, especially in instances where your images might be published and used to accompany the story. Google typically responds fast! See Google’ step by step process on how to get this done here.
When all Else Fails, Get a Lawyer
Assuming the blogger/website, host company and google do not respond, get a Yankee based lawyer. For Naija celebrities in this situation, you are not limited to fighting the situation alone on the ground in Naija. Also, while you work on doing the press releases, putting positive information about you on your social media sites and doing the things I mentioned above, you can hire a Yankee lawyer to just finish the matter i.e. “shut things down.” It is war at that point. Your lawyer would most likely sue all three parties. While the blog/website owner might be the poorest of them all, you can get an injunction (court order to stop) against the blog/website owner. Typically, all parties do not wait for this to get that far. No one wants the headache and the expensive cost of litigation, especially on a case you will most likely prevail.
FINAL NOTES ON THE WHOLE SHIN-DING
This area of law is under the umbrella of what is called “Tort Law.” More specifically, the allegations are Libel, Slander and Defamation. You’ve probably heard these terms thrown around both in Naija, online and watching Yankee TV like CNN. Libel is what this kind of scenario is called where the content is published in a written fixed form. NOTE: For defamation, the key requirement is that the information be false. If the information published is true, then too bad so sad. It is what it is. YOU the celebrity or artist have a responsibility in how you conduct yourself. You don’t want such vicious rumors said about you. It is said but is it true? If it is true, then case closed. There is nothing to fuss about. So, conduct yourself appropriately. Do not put yourself in compromising and vulnerable situations or invite people into your personal space that are out to harm you. Use your “ogbon” i.e. common sense.
Now go make it happen.
NOTE: Disclaimer- this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship with Ms. Uduak. If you want Ms. Uduak to represent you for your legal matters, contact her directly to discuss your legal situation and fees for her representation.
Ms. Uduak Oduok is the founder and principal attorney for UDUAK LAW FIRM. She is also the President & CEO of Ladybrille Media Group, Inc. She has over seventeen years combined experience in the fashion and entertainment industries and will be answering your NOT JUST OK basic Business of Music Questions. Have a question for Ms. Uduak? Send an email to email@example.com with the subject heading “Not Just Ok Music Question.