Canadian sisters Taranjot and Kiranjot Matharoo who were arrested by Femi Otedola, are finally able to speak out.
They have released an official statement with court documents to prove that they were never put in jail and that they returned back to Canada five days after news broke that they were in jail facing a 5-year sentence. They also said that they were forced to make the apology video, which they agreed to do so they could get their passports back.
The statement reads:
A scandalous story is always a better sell than the truth. This story had all the elements of a great scandal: sex, secrets, money, power, and prominent figures. We decided to break our silence by doing an interview with CTV NEWS. In reality, the interview was over one hour but CTV was only able to air a few minutes and naturally, there would be some confusion and unanswered questions.
We tried to be patient for the sake of some innocent Nigerians, but it seems our silence is being misconstrued as being guilty.
We have been home since January 2, 2017, FIVE days after the media reported we were in jail facing a sentence of five years. Uncredible journalism is what fuelled this entire media circus of lies.
WE WERE NEVER ARRESTED.
Sorry to disappoint, but we were never in jail. Six men without identification, uniforms or paperwork barged into our hotel room and said we were coming in for questioning. These men were under the control of a wealthy Nigerian citizen. Nigeria is the kind of place you can pay anyone to do anything; it IS lawless if laws are bendable by a fool trying to take the law into his own hands and play God.
This blog, Naijagistlive used it’s anonymity as it’s power; the owner is anonymous, the readers are anonymous. It was called “the best website in Africa” but in reality, it was just a gossip website with unverified stories sent in by the readers.
What non-Nigerians do not understand is that media is controlled in Nigeria. Newspapers and bloggers accept bribes under the illusion of “buying advertising space” to post a favorable story or remove a negative one. For men with money, all it would take is a simple phone call to the journalist to say, “Why did you post this, do you know who I am, do you know who my father is, remove it.” If the journalist refuses, the rich man can threaten to harm him/her therefore, the journalists tread carefully. That is what is really bothering this “billionaire”, Femi Otedola, that Naijagistlive’s owner is anonymous, was operating with freedom of speech and people couldn’t pay to hide their indiscretions.
What the public fails to realize is that many people were brought in for questioning about this website and released but it was all kept hush hush. For some reason, our questioning was publicized and we were branded as the owners.
It was a true witch-hunt trying to shut down this site and as pathetic as it sounds, the Nigerian police, misguided by granting themselves the title of the “Intelligence” Response Team, were picking out suspects from guesses in the comment section of Naijagistlive posted by anonymous commenters.
We refused to write statements without a lawyer because the police did not even know our names let alone have a single document with our names on it.
We refused to co-operate even though six men were pushing us around and intimidating us with guns.
We refused to give the corrupt police officers a list of names including contact information of any wealthy men we knew for their own form of blackmail.
Since we refused to co-operate, they put us into a holding cell at SARS (Special Anti Robbery Squad) with eleven other women in it FOR EIGHT DREADFUL HOURS. We have never been so scared. Nigeria is the type of place they can put you in jail, keep you without being able to call someone for help, and you can vanish. We cried all night.
Sahara Reporters posted a story on “How Nigerian Police Randomly Kill Suspects At SARS Ikeja” and states “it may have become the address for extrajudicial killings.”
The next day, they did an illegal search of our room and electronics. If we had refused, we would’ve been put back into the cell. We never had a choice through all of this.
We were set to be released after the police DID NOT FIND ANYTHING RELATING TO NAIJAGISTLIVE on our two phones and one laptop. I urge anyone seeking the truth to check the police file, granted they even have one. At that point, the media became so widespread posting us as the website owners, that some wealthy gullible illiterates believed it without a shred of proof and put ransoms on our heads of millions of naira believing we “broke their homes” through this website.
The same police that questioned us had to put us under police protection because they would be held accountable if two Canadian citizens went missing. We were taken to a hotel near the airport and kept in a room with armed guards for eighteen days with little to no contact to the outside world. The police claimed this was for our own protection but really they were playing both sides for their own monetary gain.
Unfortunately, our names struck familiarity with “billionaire” Femi Otedola who was one of the petitioners hoping to get the site shut down. To a man who does not know how tooperate anything besides a Nokia 3110 phone, it was a case closed as to who posted a story on his wife “mistreating her staff in the United Kingdom”, that caused him to force the police to drop everything and chase a gossip ghost.
Literacy is an issue in Nigeria. They had police officers that were not technology literate, who didn’t understand basic logic, investigating a site they had never read. We were also verbally brutalized and slandered on Naijagistlive many many times and when we told the officers that, they were confused.
Femi used our vulnerability as an opportunity to threaten us every day to admit to owning the website. He didn’t believe we didn’t own the site until the website owner replied live in front of Femi’s chief of security and the second petitioner. Thank you Naijagistlive for shutting down your website to save us. The owner was tweeting, adding blog posts, and doing interviews while we had no access to technology, which is obvious proof that we do not own the website but simple logic is a hard sell to uneducated people.
Nigeria’s Assistant Commissioner of Police has no integrity and was operating at ANY command of Femi Otedola’s, by making his Abuja officers harass us and force us to write statements about a Lagos based website. Why would Abuja officers be in Lagos outside of their jurisdiction? Does the Nigerian police have the budget to fly between cities to chase an online ghost? No. Femi used Abuja officers because he has more pull with certain authoritative individuals there; just a taste of corruption happening under President Buhari’s nose.
The unprofessional Assistant Commissioner heading this investigation later made sexual comments about one of our bodies, then asked for a phone number.
We were forced to sign an undertaking in a hotel room with the threat of maximum-security prison. We were told that if we do not sign, we will be taken to court where they will ensure we don’t get bail. There was no lawyer in the room; it was a Nigerian citizen who typed these ill-written documents. A criminal undertaking is supposed to be created by the police or the court. The papers did not even have an official police stamp, court stamp, or court location. They even made Babatunde Oyebode, the website builder, sign a paper saying “I promise to never enter Nigeria again” when he is a Nigerian citizen.
We were forced to make a video apology in our hotel room with the promise that Femi would allow the Assistant Commissioner to release our passports. That obvious forced and coerced apology was made without as much as a police officer, let alone a lawyer, present. When someone is reading off a phone and saying, “We freely volunteered to make this video and are not under duress”, it is an obvious red flag and chances are, it is not a sincere or genuine apology.
We were promised the undertaking and video apology were for Femi’s eyes only. This undertaking and “confessional” video was sent to a blogger who is known to accept bribes, the very thing they tried to petition against Naijagistlive for, to further build their case of pinning this website on us.
We were taken to court without a lawyer or legal representation of any sort, we were never shown a charge sheet or any piece of documentation, and were taken to a back room to see the magistrate where our plea was not taken.
This was just another Nigerian scam to make money. Unfortunately, Nigeria is such a disgustingly corrupt country that the police officials, commissioners, and judges designated to FIGHT CORRUPTION are the problem, not solution. Administering any form of authoritative power to those lacking integrity will never fix your country.
This poor man, Babatunde Oyebode was slandered as the website owner prior to us and it was said he was only released when they found more suitable scapegoats to pin it on. It was reported that Babatunde had a confessional video. He never confessed. Instead he pleads and pleads that he is not the owner, his story never changes. He admit he built the website and was paid anonymously online; a concept that Nigerian illiterates investigating this case could not understand. He has been tortured, hung upside down, beaten, and starved, for a cyber bullying offence? All because of his bad luck being born a Nigerian citizen. Where is the justice in that?
He is now framed as a suspected fraudstar, kidnapper, armed robber, blackmailer, and international terrorist after the wealthy men in Nigeria paid the media and court officials to ruin this innocent man’s life with lies.
In any civilized country, the viewers of this injustice would stand up to protect an innocent citizen. They would petition to release him as quickly as these men petitioned against a gossip site and demand the Nigerian police drop all the real cases to satisfy Femi exercising his power with bribes. Up until now, the media has not provided one shred of proof linking Babatunde to the website as anything besides the builder and hosting company providing security, which he has already admit to.
PICTURES AND VIDEOS.
WE ARE NOT IN POSSESSION OF ANY NON-CONSENSUAL OR COMPROMISING PHOTOS/VIDEOS OF ANYONE.
WE DO NOT PLANT VIDEO CAMERAS IN OUR HOTEL ROOMS OR ON OUR BODIES.
These were rumors started by Femi Otedola and he achieved this by feeding the media malicious stories in the hopes of creating suspicion so that no one would intervene to help us. The tabloids fail to understand that media is a joke in Nigeria; it is never based on truths. Apparently, Femi can be vindictive when he does not get what he wants. More on this later.
The types of people we knew could’ve had us out of any situation in Nigeria and safely sent home. Femi didn’t want that so he fed everyone stories that the police found pictures of each of them in our phones so they would turn on us and back up his personal vendetta against us.
Legally, the embassy would not be able to intervene if we had a legitimate case pending. We did not sneak out of the country. At first, the embassy denied us stating that they “Do not intervene with local police matters.” The burden of proof was on us.
We paid a court clerk to get a copy of the court documents which we hadn’t been allowed to see prior to attaining them. After calling a human rights lawyer on December 29th, 2016, recommended by the embassy, the paperwork was translated from legal jargon to Layman’s terms, where we found that not only was the case not filed but our names were not even in the paperwork and simply added to Babatunde’s existing case. The bail conditions did not restrict travel, so clearly the police was holding our passports illegally on Femi’s command. If anyone was to hold our passports, it should have legally been the court. The papers were completely bogus and a true embarrassment to literacy. The charges were the kidnapping of Femi Otedola with no proof of kidnapping, no evidence of the threat to kidnap, no details of the alleged threat to blackmail, and the form of communication of the threat was not even listed. I couldn’t believe they held us for twenty days with this joke.
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
Femi wanted to bury this entire issue, or maybe even bury us. You never know what someone is capable of.
Otedola wanted to stroke his own ego like he always does and paint himself as a billionaire, philanthropist, loving husband, protecting father, and hero for taking down this slanderous website posting these married men’s indiscretions and giving them sleepless nights. We were depicted as sex workers, prostitutes, blackmailers, extortionists, and kidnappers. We have no criminal past but the world views us as criminals. What is our crime? Kidnapping a man we know?
Bad news sells. We were easy targets to pin this website on. Claiming we have naked pictures/videos of men we use to blackmail through the site in order to make a bogus case appear valid in the eyes of the public was the motive to ensure it would be taken down.
At this point, it would be a bigger embarrassment than Femi’s actual post if he didn’t find the perfect scapegoats because he and the second petitioner had made a mockery of the police force by accusing countless people of being the owners of Naijagistlive. Each time a new person was posted as the”owner”, it was posted with lies of confessions and proof that no one ever saw.
Femi Otedola wanted to set a precedent and make an example of us publicly, which is why the undertaking and video “confession” were posted. If he successfully pinned the site on two foreigners and put them in jail where they can’t dispute what he says, no Nigerian would ever dare to post him or his family.
For many insecure bitter women unhappy with themselves, this was just an opportunity. It was easier for them to believe we are “escorts” turned “blackmailers” than for African women to accept that any of their men took care of us generously at their own free will. This was all made even easier with our jealous friends turned foes. Apparently, Swanky Jerry pointed the police in our direction when he was brought in for questioning hoping to pin it on anyone to save himself.
We have never needed to blackmail or extort anyone. The few Nigerian men we know are capable and would happily invest in any business proposition we bring forward, so why would we resort to blackmail? We get more out of Nigeria by being friends with these men and keeping it cordial. Even if we were to blackmail a Nigerian, we wouldn’t be stupid enough to go to Nigeria to do it. This was obviously a personal vendetta against us and Femi Otedola should understand that if we wanted to blackmail him, we would never need to go through a third party, gossip website, or take sneak pictures to do so…
If you ever had the pleasure of knowing us, if we asked for your assistance and you did nothing but chime in to Femi’s ear, then we will no longer be protecting you; this is just the beginning. Come after us all you want, we’ve assured that even our absence will not silence us. We have always protected the people we know, but none of them protected us when we needed them. We even suffered through a holding cell refusing to give the names and details about these men. We STILL PROTECTED YOU when we didn’t realize what was happening and who else was involved in this so please thank Femi the same way you thanked him for saving you from us when you believed his lies.