In January 2019, Jussie Smollett made headlines after he reported that he had been the victim of a vicious hate crime. According to Smollett, two masked men wearing red hats approached him, proceeded to tie a rope around his neck, and shouted homophobic and racial slurs at him. The assailants then allegedly proclaimed “This is MAGA country!”, in reference to former President Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan. However, it was soon discovered by authorities that Smollett had fabricated the entire encounter, enlisting the help of two Nigerian brothers – Abel and Ola Osundairo – in order to stage the incident.
In their new docuseries Jussie Smollett: Anatomy of a Hoax, the Osundairo brothers discussed the events leading up to and following the now-infamous hate crime hoax. Abel recalled his surprise at seeing Smollett continue to lie and deny his guilt despite overwhelming evidence stacked against him. He described Smollett as “a super villain” who “shed a tear” during an interview with ABC News, seemingly trying to feign innocence.
Both brothers expressed feelings of betrayal towards their former friend for never accepting accountability for his actions, although they admitted their own role in participating in the ruse. They also confirmed that police were aware of their involvement before they returned from Nigeria, with Ola feeling like “the police was waiting for [him].”
“I did feel betrayed by Jussie and what he had done,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t ready to say anything. Like, I was mute, and I didn’t want to say anything.”
“I felt like, the police was waiting for me,” Ola said. “That’s what I felt like. They’re releasing all these little bits of evidence, but they knew it was off. They just waiting for us to come back.”
Abel added that when he was getting off the plane, “the customs agent was checking everyone’s passport, and when they got to me, they pulled me aside.”
“Two big a** police officers came up — I was like d**n, it’s over with. They got me,” he said. “The police did ask us what Jussie’s motive was, but Jussie did not really tell me a motive.”
Ola said Smollett “wanted to be the poster child for activism.”
“He wanted to be the hero for gay people, for black people,” Abel added.
Two Nigerian brothers who were paid $3,500 by Empire star Jussie Smollett to stage a January 2019 attack on him have broken their silence to describe the actor as a 'crazy fraudster'.https://t.co/w3FyImTaaR pic.twitter.com/FxUDSsMosR
— Truthseeker (@Xx17965797N) March 14, 2023
In March 2022, he was sentenced to 150 days in Cook County jail followed by 30 months of probation period along with paying $120,106 restitution fee plus $25,000 fine based on five out of six charges brought against him by prosecutors. It’s worth noting that days after his sentencing was handed down, he was released from jail while awaiting appeal on appeal on his conviction.
Jussie Smollett hoax perpetrators reenact what happened that fateful night in Chicago pic.twitter.com/dEJR9csNU5
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) March 14, 2023