Sahara Reporters AUDIO: 'Publisher Sowore demanded N100M bribe from me'--Fatodu

Fatodu claims that Sowore wrote damaging stories concerning his person after he refused to cough out money.

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Lekan Fatodu and Omoyele Sowore play

Lekan Fatodu and Omoyele Sowore

(Chidi's Palace)
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A UK based journalist and Public Relations (PR) practitioner, Lekan Fatodu, has told Pulse that Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, threatened him with blackmail and went ahead to publish defamatory stories against his person after he refused to yield to monetary demands from the latter.

Fatodu and Sowore have been friends for over two decades, says the former.

Both men are also alumni of the University of Lagos where they forged a bond as buddies.

They remained in touch when they both left Nigeria to pursue their dreams abroad.

Fatodu claims that he funded the honeymoon of the publisher in 2004 and contributed financially to the funeral of Sowore's dad in 2005.

Fatodu, Sowore and Soyinka take a stroll abroad play

Fatodu, Sowore and Soyinka take a stroll abroad

(Lekan Fatodu)

 

However, in recent times, that bond of friendship has thawed as Fatodu told Pulse recently.

"Sowore demanded N100M from me as bribe", Fatodu disclosed to Pulse during an exclusive chat in Lagos. "He said N1.7B was transferred to my account. That out of it, I got a share of N500M. He said that out of my share, I should give him N100M," Fatodu added.

Fatodu explained to Pulse that he runs a PR consultancy called Leeman Communications which in 2014, was invited to tender bids for a contract with the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), then overseen by  Lt Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

Leeman got awarded the contract, Fatodu said.

ALSO READ: Sahara Reporters demanded $1M bribe from Senate President, says Omisore

With Goodluck Jonathan losing the 2015 election contest to incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari, stories bordering on alleged corruption in the past, became media staples in Nigeria.

 

Sowore would tell his friend during a phone conversation in January of 2016 that he'd gotten hold of information of an imminent arrest of Fatodu by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for being a beneficiary of the alleged looting of security votes by Dasuki during the Jonathan era.

According to Fatodu, Sowore claimed he could kill the case against his friend by sounding out his pool of contacts in high places in government, if he pays up.

"He told me that if I don't give him N100M from the famous Dasuki loot, he'll run the story", Fatodu said.

"Besides, what I executed for the Nigerian government at the time, was a legitimate business transaction which cost nowhere near N1.7B. I don't know where Sowore got his bogus figures from", he said.

Former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki (R) allegedly oversaw a sprawling embezzlement scheme that saw "phantom contracts" awarded for personal gain, as under-equipped troops fought better-armed militants play Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) is facing trial for looting of security votes (AFP/File)

 

 

According to the PR consultant, after he refused to pay up, his friend of over 20 years ran the story tailored to besmirch him, on his popular platform.

"I told him I couldn't possibly have the amount of money he was demanding", said Fatodu. "Sowore stated that I was a front for former Aviation minister Fani-Kayode who led the publicity arm of the Jonathan presidential campaign. Of course it was a tissue of lies. After he ran the story on his Sahara Reporters, my company alongside 200 others across Nigeria, was invited to appear before the Contract Verification Committee of the office of the NSA to defend our contract, which we did.

"After the committee asked us a few questions on the contract, checked our company's documents, reports of work done and confirmed payment received for our work, they were satisfied and asked us to leave.  My company was certified to have delivered the contract very well. It was a contract of N38M and we were only paid N12M. We only spent 25 minutes before the committee. The NSA is still owing us and I have written to them to clear their debt", Fatodu told Pulse.

Femi Fani-Kayode play Former aviation minister Fani-Kayode (Information NG)

 

In an audio made exclusively available to Pulse by Fatodu, Sowore allegedly tells his friend; "If people contacted me and said that EFCC wants to invite you to something, and I said to them, let me work on it...If the party that brought me into this picture said they are going after you and I say calm down now, I know this guy. You understand...that's what I was telling you yesterday. Ehen. That was what I was saying".

 

Fatodu is heard telling Sowore in the audio that he'll be expecting a formal invitation from the nation's anti-graft agencies and prefers to confront his case headlong because he's innocent. He also said he has nothing to hide from his friend.

"I challenge Sowore to dispute details of that phone conversation of 2016 or publish his own version if he's got guts", Fatodu bellowed. "All I had with the office of the NSA was a legitimate business transaction. Nothing more". 

Omoyele Sowore play The day police arrested Sowore in Lagos (Twitter)

 

On January 11, 2017, while driving around Ikeja alongside a friend, Fatodu spotted Sowore riding on the opposite side of traffic, he recalls.

The Sahara Reporters publisher was heading into GRA, Ikeja.

According to Fatodu, "while driving around Ikeja alongside a friend, a car hurriedly jumped the red light and almost caused an accident for myself and other motorists that had the right of way.

"I just asked my friend; 'is that not Sowore?' Because we are all friends. I've driven in Sowore's car and I've also offered him a ride in my car. So I told my friend that the driver deliberately jumped the red light because of his previous threat to me.

"We moved close to the car and it was Sowore at the passenger's seat. As soon as he saw me, he started saying that he was going to deal with me in this country.

"I noticed they were about four guys in Sowore's car.  I ran to the police at the junction of Nitel bus stop by GRA who helped to reach their colleagues who came to pick Sowore up. How can a so called investigative reporter, who prides himself as one of Nigeria's best, be involved in such rascality and blackmail?

"Imagine how many other persons whose careers Sowore has killed with his blackmail brand of journalism. I wasn't going to take it lying low. Apart from me, Sowore has ruined the careers of other mutual friends. What kind of man is this? With a friend like Sowore, who needs enemies?"

Lekan Fatodu play

Lekan Fatodu

(Sahara Reporters)

 

In his account of events after showing up at the Area 'F' police station in Lagos, January, Sowore said Fatodu wanted to have him killed.

"I am now safely out of the labyrinth of a police conspiracy centred around one Lekan Fatodu whom, in January 2016, we reported on Sahara Reporters had been involved in laundering money for Femi Fani-Kayode. On Wednesday, Lekan and a friend of his referred to as “Ándre” waylaid me at GRA Ikeja and tried to kill me", said Sowore.

Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore play

Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore

(Twitter)

 

"The attempt was resisted by the public, following which he showed up later with a police van from Area "F" police with a plain cloth police team. As it turned out, Commissioner of the Lagos State Police Command, Fatai Owoseni was part of the conspiracy, as he pulled out a petition alleging "criminal defamation" against me, got upset when I questioned his position and impartiality, and threatened to deal with me.

"Even in the days of General Abacha, I did not experience that brazen partiality. My attack by Fatodu was organized with the police, but as they were unable to arrest me directly, he was given the cover to carry out an attack that would give the police their needed tonic to take vengeance on me.

"The situation wasn't better when I was hurled before Lagos CP, Mr. Owoseni and later, Frank Mba, who started a winding story claiming it was a messy case. I was asked to sign for my bail on Self Recognizance, but I declined, insisting I had not been arrested by the police and were that the case, that I preferred to be booked and shown an arrest warrant. After a short argument, I was let go without signing a bail bond, but was asked to return to the Panti Police Station on Thursday at 2p.m. I wish to thank all Nigerians".

ALSO READ: Lekan Fatodu leads protest against media organisation

Last Friday, Fatodu led a crowd to protest against "fake news" at the new Sahara Reporters civic media lab on Isaac John street, GRA Ikeja.

"This location which is part of the route for this walk is symbolic because the building we are looking at: 13B Isaac John GRA Ikeja is the office of Sahara Reporters, the headquarters of fake news in Nigeria which is run by the most notorious blackmailer in the history of Nigeria, Sowore Omoyele. It was inside that building I got Sowore arrested in January and the case is still in Panti police station", Fatodu blared into his audience.

Fatodu leads protesters to Sahara Reporters office in Lagos play

Fatodu leads protesters to Sahara Reporters office in Lagos

(Lekan Fatodu)

The fake news protest in Lagos which Fatodu led play

The fake news protest in Lagos which Fatodu led

(Fatodu)

 

"I've written to Governor Ambode on the criminality that goes on in this property. Interestingly, the respected Nobel Laureate, Profesor Wole Soyinka had also warned that Sowore should toe the path of rectitude because now that his address is known he can easily be picked up when he commits any wrongful acts.

"I'm leading this critical discussion because I'm a lucky survivor of Sowore's malicious fake news, criminal blackmail and violence. Can Sowore swear on his late father's grave that he didn't demand a bribe from me?" Fatodu queried.

Attempts to get Sowore's side of the story and his reaction concerning the audio, were unsuccessful before press time.

Pulse will relay Sowore's side of events when he becomes available.