Brands & Marketing

Dangote and Ms Spikes: When Reputation Becomes a Burden

A man and his wealth are like faeces. He gathers flies anywhere he goes. These are African sayings that highlight the burdens of a rich man or woman. The fear of the man with wealth has always been the nature of the people around him: whether they have good intentions or relate with him based only on what they can gain. As he grapples with the numerous personalities and identities in his environment, he is open to slippery situations that can get him blackmailed. The blackmail becomes much more intriguing when the wealthy victim has a reputation to protect or has attained certain heights in their career. If it involves a relationship, it takes the obvious form of an emotional blackmail. Such is the dilemma of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote as Autumn Spikes, a purported ex-girlfriend of the billionaire businessman said she was “insultingly” offered $15,000 and another $2,500 monthly by the African richest man to keep quiet over their affair.

In the words of Ms Spikes: “I was insultingly offered 15k and 2,500 a month to sign an NDA but I declined.”

She did not disclose how long Mr Aliko Dangote allegedly offered to pay her the monthly $2,500, but went further to state, “I gained legal counsel in which we countered his offer. Mind you his first initial offer wasn’t disclosed in the terms of his proposed NDA.

“Therefore I was pressured and influenced to sign which was already a violation of his own NDA.”

Ms Spikes, who disclosed this in a post via her Instagram handle, @allounda1, on Monday, is instead, demanding $5 million in exchange for the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) requested by Mr Aliko Dangote.

While such statement reveals Autumn Spikes as a money monger and the overall situation as a clear criminal case of extortion, it leaves one to ponder how people enjoy using top personalities as bait to enrich their pockets. One of the hallmarks of an extortionist is that they relate in terms of their demands and how much they want from their victims. If they don’t give in, it generates feelings that leads the extortionist to drag their victims’ name in the mud. When the victim resists, the extortionist becomes locked in a battle to save themselves and their ego.

From what we see, this is the sensibility and disposition that informs Spikes’ ranting. She wants Dangote’s money! It is an obvious fact that there won’t be a need for this conversation if it didn’t involve Africa’s richest man. If it were a random person, Ms. Spikes wouldn’t even bother let alone go on with the buzz she has created around it.

As one struggle to grapple with an explanation for this fad and while it has gained ground over the years, it is important to note that Dangote is not the only victim of this rising menace. Football stars as Neymar Jr. have gone through the same road.

It was just last year that the controversial news of the Brazilian star made rounds in the media space. The Paris St. German forward was accused of raping a woman named Najila Trindade. She claimed that the football star had violently assaulted and raped her in a Paris hotel room May, 2020.

Although Neymar denied the allegation, posting on his instagram that “it was a trap, and I ended up falling for it”, no one was going to have it as all accusing fingers seemed to be pointed at him. They were grievances that he was taking advantage of his position as a superstar in the society to exploit weak women. The public outrage and sympathy for the complainant grew when Trindade disclosed that the rape had left her “traumatized”.

Eventually, investigations vindicated the Champions League winner. Both Trindade and her ex-husband, Estivens Alves, were charged with trying to blackmail the Brazilian international. Trindade was further charged with fraud, extortion, and slander.

There is another case of late-night host, David Letterman, who shocked many when he confessed to having sexual relations with female staffers, including his longtime assistant. It eventually turned out his admission was prompted by a CBS employee who was attempting to blackmail him for $2 million.

Top women dignitaries are also victims of this rising menace. Popular TV host, Oprah Winfrey is a case study. Keifer Bonvillian, a former employee at Oprah’s production company, attempted to extort $1.5 million from the media mogul in 2005. The FBI got involved in 2007 after he approached the TV mogul and threatened to release potentially damaging recorded phone conversations. After publishing a book “Ruthless” in 2008 which featured tell-all secrets about Oprah and her company, Bonvillian tried again and filed a $180 million lawsuit against her. He was eventually arrested.

American star and actress, Cameron Diaz, is another victim. Photographer John Rutter took topless photos of Diaz prior to her becoming a star and tried to sell them back to her before threatening to make them public. Diaz testified in courts that the photographer approached her ahead of the 2003 release of “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and wanted $3.5 million for the shots. Rutter was eventually arrested.

Extortion is nothing new but attempting to put down dignitaries and personalities in order to gratify selfish desires and enrich one’s pocket is nothing short of plain evil. Extortion has evolved overtime. Modern extortionists have adapted their methods to take advantage of the internet. Since we conduct much of our lives online these days, everyone is liable to fall victim.

In Nigeria, internet fraud, what is otherwise known, as “Yahoo Yahoo” has almost been normalized with endorsement from young people, some parents and particularly players in the entertainment industry. You are deemed smart when you use dubious means to siphon and extort money from people who have struggled all their lives to get to the positions they are.

Ms Spikes has gone further to share a part of a page of Mr Aliko Dangote’s court documents filed at a Miami-Dade County Court in Florida, through her Monday’s Instagram post. She denied threatening Mr Dangote with blackmails on the social media or through media talk shows as claimed by the billionaire businessman in his suit. She expressed surprise that she could be sued for extortion by the wealthy businessman.

With such words as “manly egoistical move” to generate sentiments from fellow women while describing Aliko Dangote’s law suit, one sees a more emotional blackmail in full view.

Read Also: From FCMB to Dangote: Banana Peels that Brands Must Avoid

Clearly, Spikes seems to be emboldened by the trend of extortion from men of wealth and women of substance that is deep-rooted in the American culture. It is thus vital for every sane society to condemn all forms of blackmail, with stiff punishment slammed on anyone involved to discourage this type of opportunism and brazen attempts to blackmail those who made their wealth through sweat and hardwork.

-Nelson Okoh

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