Charles Lambert, the founder of Black Wall Street, the self-styled ‘Pan African Centre of Commerce’, is hounding FIJ after failing in initial attempts at bribery, for publishing a story on the his platform’s failure redeem its pledge to a Nigerian investor.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
On May 1, 2022, FIJ had reported that Adeosun Oluwaseyi, a Lagos-based banker, accused Black Wall Street of refusing to return his N1 million investment in the platform since 2020.
Adeosun had told FIJ that he invested the sum in May 2020 after he was promised a monthly Return On Investment (ROI) of N45,500.
“It was Williams Nwachi, my friend, who introduced me to the company. He was a marketer at the so-called Black Wall Street during the period. As a result of my trust in him, I decided to invest my money in the company, based on his recommendation,” Adeosun said.
“It turned out that investing my hard-earned N1 million was the greatest mistake of my life.”
The banker said he purchased five investment slots at the rate of N200,000 each from the company. He also said Nwachi made the payment on his behalf.
“My friend was owing me N20,000. So, after sending him N980,000, he added the amount he was owing me to it and assisted me in buying five slots. I later sent him another N10,000 for ‘activation of investment,'” he said.
Adeosun said an official at Black Wall Street would later reach out to him to say it would take six months for his returns to mature.
“They said I would be able to make withdrawals after six months,” the banker said.
However, after waiting for six months, Adeosun received no return.
“I made the investment in May 2020 and waited patiently until the end of the promised six months. In the end, all I got was another message telling me to wait for another six months.”
Adeosun also said that all his complaints regarding the promised returns were received with rude responses from the company.
“Their responses were always placing emphasis on my impatience,” Adeosun said.
“Now, I don’t even know if I will ever be able to get my N1 million back any more.”
An investigation by FIJ showed that Black Wall Street is owned by Lambert who lives in Kampala, Uganda.
On its site, Lambert claims to be working on several business projects such as building a ground-breaking software applications that will be monetized.
Through this, Lambert is able to solicit monetary commitments from interested investors, with a promise that they would reap bountiful profits in return, once the project is completed.
FIJ sent an email to Black Wall Street for comments on the complaint made by Adeosun, but, no response had been received as of press time.
BRIBERY ATTEMPTS AFTER THE STORY
Sometime in early September, a male caller reached out to ‘Fisayo Soyombo, Founder of FIJ, asking to know what could be done to pull the story down. The response was clear: at FIJ, we do not pull published stories down; however, once Black Wall Street pays the complainant, we would publish a follow-up story reflecting the payment.
Not long after, there was another call, this time from a lady who introduced herself as Caroline. She asked to know “what it would take” for FIJ to pull the story down. Caroline got a similar response: no amount of money could get the story off the FIJ website; just pay the investor and we would publish a follow-up story showing you have acted right.
Caroline asked Soyombo if he could mediate in Black Wall Street’s conversations with Oluwaseyi, the investor, but he declined. Their conversations with Oluwaseyi did not end up as anticipated, though, as the investor rejected their offer of a refund of his N1 million investment. Instead, he insisted on being paid his principal as well as the RoIs. With the two parties unable to reach an agreement, something strange happened.
SPURIOUS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT ALLEGATION
Someone by the name Robert Lavigne wrote Digital Ocean, an American cloud infrastructure provider headquartered in New York City, to cut FIJ off it’s web hosting service if the piece in question was not taken down. Lavigne’s piece bore the date April 24, 2022 — one week before FIJ’s piece went live. However, quite stunningly, Lavigne’s April 24 piece was a copy-and-paste version of FIJ’s May 1 piece!
Based on advice from FIJ’s legal team, FIJ understands that Digital Ocean may, acting on the basis of the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), exercise the discretion to take down a publication with disputed copyright claims until the claims are resolved.
FIJ’s lawyers are concerned that the false copyright claim, which was made at the risk of perjury, is possibly a backdoor attempt to take down the publication at all cost by someone who is dissatisfied with FIJ’s report. FIJ’s lawyers consider it a “gross misuse” of the DMCA.
For FIJ to file a counter-claim, Digital Ocean will take down the story. The said Robert Lavigne has 10 days to substantiate its claim failing which the story can be restored.
FIJ is challenging the false copyright claim and will republish the story in question as soon as the claim is resolved.
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