FORMER ENGLAND FOOTBALLER FASHANU IN NIGERIAN JAIL FOR LAND SALE SCAM

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The former Wimbledon and England star spent two days locked up with 200 other persons as officers investigated claims he acted as a fixer in a scam to sell plots that were not for sale.

He was arrested at his home on the Sun City Estate, in the capital Abuja, and taken in on suspicion of “criminal conspiracy”, detectives said.

It is alleged that earlier this year the former I’m a Celeb favourite acted for a friend looking to buy land.

The pal claims he was told by Fashanu, 54, of two contacts who would help with buying “forgotten lands” – plots owned by chiefs that the state were unaware of.

He was allegedly given £23,000 in cash to fix the deal with his “boys”. But when the new “owner” went to claim his land, it is alleged he found it not for sale and not in the hands of local chiefs.

Fash, who once fronted Nigeria’s version of Deal or No Deal, was taken before a superintendent last week to explain himself before being left in a packed pen, police sources said.

Officers are now looking for the other two men said to be involved. It is believed they are still in Nigeria, where the average yearly wage is £1,600 (660,000 Nairi).

Fashanu has agreed to pay the money back, although he denies wrongdoing.

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Fashanu has agreed to pay back the £23,000 paid for the land(Image: Alamy)

A source close to the former Gladiators presenter said last night: “This is a business deal between friends that has gone south and the police were asked to basically mediate.

“It will all be sorted very quickly. It was just a business deal.”

It is understood Fashanu was released after surrendering his British passport and agreeing to pay back a first instalment of the money.

Sources said he looked to sell some of his cars to raise the cash as he waited for funds from his numerous business interests to clear in his bank account.

The London-born celebrity’s Nigerian barrister Hyp Egbune confirmed he had this week paid a second instalment of the money owed.

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The star’s barrister says Fashanu and the complainant are ‘friends’(Image: Rex Features

He said: “The matter is being resolved. He won’t be charged to court is my understanding.

“We are repaying the money and that should settle this matter.

“The person who made the complaint has been a mutual friend for quite a number of years and we are more interested in keeping that relationship so we are making amends. We hope to do that as soon as we can. It is quite a lot of money so we hope to do it as soon as we can. We want to have this resolved.”

Nigerian police Deputy Inspector General Hyacinth Dagala said: “John Fashanu was arrested on July 17 in connection with an allegation of criminal conspiracy and obtaining the sum of N9,550,000 [Nigerian Naira] under false pretence.

“He was granted administrative bail on July 18 but because of his inability to produce the requisite surety on that day, he remained in detention until July 19 when he was released.”

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The former footie star is a local celebrity in Nigeria(Image: Rex Features)

Fashanu is a respected businessman and philanthropist, who now has the grand title of Ambassador in his adopted nation. Once said to be worth upwards of £6million, he spends his days in Nigeria cutting business deals, hanging out with politicians and fighting to stop people trafficking.

He and third wife, TV personality Rachel Bakam, are regulars on the social scene at glitzy parties.

Last year, the couple were given chieftaincy titles. Fashanu became Ofia-Afulu-Agu of Okwe Kingdom (meaning The Forest that Contains the Lion) and his wife Ugo-Di-Namba of Okwe Kingdom (Beautiful Eagle Queen from Another Kingdom).

Fash has been a UN ambassador for Nigeria, a Unicef goodwill ambassador for 53 African countries and a former board member of the Nigeria Football Association.

During his playing days, in 1997, he was acquitted in a high-profile match-fixing trial along with goalkeepers Bruce Grobbelaar and Hans Segers. In 2015 he was arrested over an unlicensed gun found in his Nigerian house during a police raid. He ended up paying a fine.

 

MIRROR

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