Two Canadian sisters who have reportedly been detained in Nigeria after being accused of trying to blackmail a prominent businessman have apologized for their website in a video posted online.
Jyoti and Kiran Matharoo, who are believed to be from Toronto, run racy, jetset and luxury-filled social media accounts. According to two Nigerian newspapers, they were apprehended this week and charged with several offences for running a gossip website that included sexual content.
The Vanguard newspaper said the women face four charges, including blackmail and cyberstalking. CBC News has been unable to confirm the charges with the court in Lagos, the African country’s largest city.
In the video, posted online Thursday, the sisters admit to using the websites Naijagistlive.com and Naijagistlive.co — the domains of which have both expired — to solicit gossip.
The sisters were accused of using that information to extort money from high-profile Nigerians, including more than $ 300,000 from one politician, the Vanguard reported. However, the Matharoo sister who speaks in the video denies making any money from the website.
Both the Vanguard and Politics Nigeria, which describes itself as an independent online newspaper, said the women were charged after trying to extort money from Nigerian businessman Femi Otedola, the chair of Forte Oil Plc.
The Matharoos apologized directly to Otedola and his family in the video shared on Instagram, though the video wasn’t posted on their own accounts.
“We are again, very sorry,” said the Matharoo sister in the video, adding she wasn’t acting under duress while recording the video.
Politics Nigeria, which has images of the sisters inside a Lagos courthouse, posted “criminal undertaking” forms signed by a Taranjot Matharoo that says some 274 people, mainly in Africa, were cyberbullied and humiliated by the Naijagistlive website.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed in an email to CBC News earlier this week that it is providing consular help to Canadian citizens currently detained in Lagos, though the government declined to release further details, citing privacy issues.
CBC News has attempted to contact the Matharoos. However, a Toronto number provided on court documents wasn’t connected.
Matropolitan.com, the Matharoo’s website, also features one post about a Toronto nail salon and prominently features the CN Tower among world landmarks on its header.
The case has reportedly been adjourned until Jan. 26. It’s unclear if the women remain in custody or have been granted bail.
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