Nigerian Footballers and Their Brother Jailed For NGO Fraud

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Former professional footballers Efe and Stephen Sodje, along with brother Bright, were given prison sentences for fraud last year in the U.K.

The three brothers were found to have siphoned off more than £60,000 given to the Sodje Sports Foundation (SSF).

They were jailed in September – Efe Sodje for 18 months, Bright Sodje for 21 months, and Stephen Sodje for two years and six months – at the Central Criminal Court in relation to the fraud.

Efe Sodje appeared for Nigeria in the 2000 African Cup of Nations and the 2002 World Cup, while Bright Sodje played professional rugby league and union in the 1980s and 1990s.

Efe, Bright and Stephen Sodje set up SSF in 2009 with the stated aim of helping poor children in the Niger delta. The three brothers used their connections within professional football and business communities to secure support for their foundation and to give it an appearance of legitimacy.

Between 2011 and 2014 they defrauded donors of at least £63,000. NCA officers who investigated the SSF’s activities, found donations usually ended up in personal bank accounts of family members.

Events over the three years, including charity football matches, raised funds but nothing reached any under-privileged or sick children.

NCA deputy director Chris Farrimond said: “Bright, Efe and Stephen Sodje promoted themselves as generous, community-minded, figures when they were knowingly defrauding people who thought they were helping deprived children in Nigeria.”

Their brother, Akpo, 37, is still wanted in connection with the fraud. He fled the UK during the investigation and a European Arrest Warrant has now been issued.

Two other men were convicted in connection with the same offences in January 2018.

Emmanuel Noel Oziegbi Ehikhamen was given a 12 month suspended sentence, while Andrew Yulbrynner Oruma was jailed for four years in his absence after absconding from bail during the trial. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.



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