By Onyinye Ugwu
American actor, Jussie Smollett is bent on letting the world he’s innocent as he reportedly has evidence which dispute claims that he paid two Nigerian brothers the sum of $3,500 to help stage a hate attack against him.
TMZ reported on Sunday that a cheque showing that amount and made payable from Smollett’s account to one of the alleged attackers also reflected a “5 week Nutrition/Workout program (Don’t Go)” written in the memo line.
Chicago Police said the cheque which is dated Jan. 23, supports their allegation that the Empire star paid the Osundairo brothers, Abel and Olabanjo to carry out the hoax assault six days later.
But sources told TMZ that the payment was really for training to help Smollett get into shape for a music video for his song, “Don’t Go.”
The 192-pound singer-songwriter wanted to lose 20 pounds for the video — because he was supposed to appear shirtless in it — so he hired Abimbola, a jacked bodybuilder whom he knew from the gym and called “Bon.”
Other evidence that may be in Smollett’s favour includes a series of texts messages between him and “Bon” beginning on Jan. 20, which outlined a healthy meal plan including chicken thigh, Starkist tuna, eggs and Smucker’s peanut butter and various fruit.
“This is the meal plan and the breakdown of macronutrients. Also includes projected fat loss,” Abimbola texted Smollett.
Another one, dated Jan. 28 — hours before the attack, Abimbola wrote to Smollett, “I know you’re traveling today, make sure you get at least 45 mins of cardio.”
The $3,500 total check accounted for $600-a-week for five weeks of the workout plan and $100-a-week for the food plan, also for five weeks, sources told TMZ.
Another text seems to show that Smollett was slated to film on February 23 while a screenshot from Venmo shows the 36-year-old had paid “Bola” $100 on September 27, 2018, for “training” — potentially supporting his claims that the $3,500 wasn’t related to the Jan. 29 “attack.”
Both Abimbola and Abel and Olabanjo appeared before a grand jury after they were arrested upon their return from a trip to Nigeria. They reportedly said the payments discovered were made for Smollett’s training.
Smollett is charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. Tyler Perry who with spoke him, said he believed the embattled actor after their conversation.
He has since been released from custody after posting 10 percent of $100,000 bond.
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