Retired footballer, John Fashanu, was reported arrested and held in an unnamed Abuja cell over an alleged dodgy land deal, police have revealed.
The former Wimbledon and England star spent two days locked up with 200 other inmates as police 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 Abuja, and taken in on suspicion of “criminal conspiracy”, detectives said.
It is alleged that earlier this year the former Gladiators presenter 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 N9,550,000 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.
Fashanu, who appeared as character witness in a London court for former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, during his money laundering trial in 2012, was arrested last week to explain himself before being left in a packed cell, police sources said.
Officers are now looking for the other two men said to be involved. It is believed they are still in Nigeria.
Fashanu has agreed to pay the money back, although he denies wrongdoing.
A source close to the ex-footballer said: “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.
His Nigerian barrister, Hyp Egbune, confirmed he had this week paid a second instalment of the money owed.
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.”
Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of operation, 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 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.”
This is not Fashanu’s first brush with the law.
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.