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Journalist believes Canadian government helped sisters flee Nigeria before fraud trial

Last Updated Apr 17, 2017 at 7:03 pm EST

Where are the Matharoo sisters?

The glamorous Instagrammers from Toronto disappeared in Lagos, Nigeria, failing to show up in court to face criminal charges of blackmailing Nigerian billionaires.

Now, the editor of an online newspaper that first broke the story about the charges, says the Canadian government may have intervened and helped Jyoti and Kiran Matharoo flee Nigeria.

“I went to the prosecutor’s office and I got a lot of information. First off the sisters left Nigeria without their international passports,” said Dumebi Ifeanyi, publisher of Politics Nigeria. “What I was able to discover … the Canadian High Commission gave a document to the girls which would aid them to travel without their passports.”

The Matharoo sisters have a penchant for the high life — their Instagram accounts are filled with lavish purchases and luxury living.

But following the charges, their online lives simmered.

They posted a cellphone video shortly after they were released on bail in Lagos in December with a promise to appear in court the following month. Then they vanished.

But a CityNews Investigation finds they’ve resurfaced online and appear to be back in Toronto.

CityNews has not been able to independently confirm the Canadian government’s role, but Global Affairs did issue a statement saying “consular services were provided for the Canadian citizens who had been detained …” but for privacy reasons no other details can be released.

They then advised CityNews to contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), for questions about the process for issuing emergency travel documents.

IRCC has not responded to our questions.

Lawyer Ari Goldkind says if Canada did meddle in Nigeria’s justice system, it would be unusual.

“Anybody today right now could go and look to what the government does — if you get in trouble in a foreign country will it come to your rescue? On your first page of [googling] it will say, ‘if you commit a crime there expect to be treated with the local laws of the land.’ ”

The Matharoo sisters’ Instagram accounts have been inactive for months, but the young women have resurfaced on Flickr, uploading dozens of pictures from Dubai, Miami, and most recently, at a beauty bar on Queen Street East in Toronto.

The editor of Politics Nigeria says the Matharoos shouldn’t be getting their eyebrows done in Toronto, when they face serious criminal charges in Nigeria.

“They should have faced justice. What they did is not right. They escaped. They haven’t faced the court. They escaped and have gone into hiding. They are criminals. They are wanted in Nigeria.”