For some time now, the pop culture media has been awashed with the story of the alleged choking of a certain Tutupie Sheriff – a 24 year old ex-lover of Nollywood’s top star – Jim Iyke. According to reports, Jim Iyke, in a fit of anger, following a personal issue had put a choke hold on the Abuja based Rhythm FM radio presenter, injuring her severely in the process. According to the Sheriff’s account on the night in question, they had gone out clubbing in Abuja and she had run into a friend, whom she hugged. That friendly and innocent hug triggered an uncontrollable rage in Jim Iyke, who later went and fought with the guy physically. She said she was thoroughly embarrassed and told Jim so in no uncertain terms. Jim later apologized to her for his conduct, and they went home together. The next morning, Jim began talking about the guy she had hugged at the club, and she told him to get over it, that she had nothing romantic to do with the guy. Jim according to her, lost his cool, and choked her, leaving her gasping for breath “I thought I was going to die” she had stated. She later ran out of Jim’s house, and drove away her neck full of cuts and in pains. She said Jim was always fond of fighting guys who talked to her; that Jim is a sociopath, very narcissistic and controlling. She also accused Jim of being fraudulent in his dealings with his foundation. She said the money she helped raise for the foundation was not remitted to the charity he had purported to helping, and that of the millions of Naira raised, only 40.000 Naira (Nigeria’s local currency) was given to the charity. The entertainment world has been running wild with all manner of analyses and interpretations of this story. In all of this, Jim had maintained a studious silence…until now. In maintaining our editorial policy of not just running stories based on conjectures and innuendos, and determined to get to the heart of the matter, I had called Jim Iyke on the telephone from his set in Accra, Ghana where he is currently shooting a movie and demanded that he broke his silence on the issue, given the severity of the allegations made by his ex-lover. Sounding calm Jim told me he had all along shunned the media, and had instructed his publicist to issue a statement which he did, and that was all he had to say on the issue. But because of the respect he has for The Diasporan Star, he would finally break his silence and speak for the first time on the issue. “I thank you for giving me the platform to state my own side of the story” Jim had begun. “I want to state categorically that I did not choke Tutupie. I want my fans and admirers all over the world to know this: Of all the things the media has ascribed to me, I am not a woman batterer. I have never put a finger on a female. I am rather a protector of my female friends and I think it is a sign of weakness of character for a man to put his hands on a woman. My preferred means of settling fights is to go the bedroom, talk things over and end it there amicably in an adult manner.” THE GENESIS OF THE ACCUSATION “Tutupie and I had a relationship, and eventually I decided to end it and move on. She was very distraught and couldn’t find closure to the whole situation and felt the best way to get back at me was to frame me the manner she has done. I am revealing this to your readers that she has apologized to me for blackmailing me. She said I choked her and that she had medical records to prove that I injured her badly. As we speak, the record is yet to be tendered. I am a Black Belt in Karate, if I had choked her, she would have bruises and a black eye, but that did not happen. The same day she said I choked her, she went out partying with her friends, and was back at work the next day.” Jim said he understands Tutupie’s frustration “Sometimes, breaking up with someone whom you had invested your emotions and soul to, can be difficult. Tutupie is still dealing with the pains of the breakup. I will not denigrate and demonize her, but the approach and method she employed to get back at me is what I find completely objectionable. She claimed that I fought a guy who hugged her at the club, which is totally false. People who know me can attest to the fact that, when I go to clubs I try to make myself as unobtrusive as possible. I do not do the posse thing or be loud and cantankerous. Tutupie is a radio personality and naturally she would have fans – male and female. Why would I lose my cool because she hugged a friend? Does that sound logical to you at all? It is sad that Tutupie would go the route she took to get even, when she knows the claims she made against me are totally false.” HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS AMERICAN FIANCEE – KETURAH HAMILTON For the past four years, Jim Iyke has been in a serious relationship with the Jamaican born New York based actress and model – Keturah Hamilton. In an interview I had with him over two years ago, he told me pointedly that he has finally found the woman of his dreams in Keturah. They are said to be engaged. Given all the negative publicity that has attended his current situation; I asked Jim if the revelation that he carried out a torrid affair with Tutupie while he was still engaged to Keturah may not have put a damper in the relationship. Sounding very contrite and remorseful Jim said “It has been a very difficult time for both of us. I have apologized to Keturah profusely and told her that we are all human-prone to all the frailties and foibles. I fell off the wagon and betrayed her faith and trust in me, and for that I have told her how deeply sorry I am. This has been a teachable time for me. It is also a time for redemption and I dare say it has made me a better person. I am more perceptive, more in tune with the concerns and feelings of other people. I am happy that I have such a sweet and beautiful soul in Keturah and she has found it in her heart to forgive me. She actually flew to Nigeria to be with me in the heat of the whole situation, and that was very helpful. I have assured her that I will never betray her trust again in me.” THE ACCUSATION THAT HIS FOUNDATION DID NOT REMIT FUNDS TO THE INTENDED CHARITY “I think it was a very unfortunate thing for Tutupie to say. She knows that some of the people who made financial pledges have not redeemed their promise as of yet. She knows how committed I am to those children – for her to level such unfounded accusation is very depressing. I’m consoled by the fact that we are determined to improve the condition of those innocent kids, and nothing – no blackmail or scandal will derail me from that course. Naysayers may say all they want – just as they recently did to Wyclef Jean’s foundation, but the truth is that we will continue to support the kids.” JIM’S FIANCEE – KETURAH HAMILTON SPEAKS After getting Jim’s own side of the story, I had called his fiancee – Keturah Hamilton to get her reaction to the whole affair. I wanted to know if the revelation of an affair that Jim had with Tutupie had shaken her faith in their relationship. “Of course, it has. Who would not feel betrayed if your man had an affair with another woman? But the question remains: do you walk away from a four year old relationship simply because your man cheated on you? I have decided to stay with Jim. He has apologized and confessed that he strayed. Even though I was angry, I have forgiven him. He has also promised never to cheat on me again. It was a very difficult moment for us. If I had walked away from the relationship, I think I would have given the other lady what she had all along desired to fulfill: the breakup of our relationship. She knew all along that Jim and I were in a serious relationship. The Nigerian media know us, they have written about us, photographed us together, they have seen us at clubs and functions all over Lagos, Abuja and other major cities. The other lady is in the media, and she knows all this, yet she went ahead and had an affair with Jim. She obviously wanted to break us up, but I would not give her that satisfaction.” On the accusation that Jim choked her, Keturah said “I asked Jim if he did that, and he said it was not true. I have told Jim that I can deal with the cheating, but if he indeed had put a hand on her, I would not tolerate that. No man as far as I am concerned should lift his finger on a woman. That is a no, no for me. The Jim Iyke that I have known for four years now, is incapable of hitting a woman, so I believe him.” Asked if she still loves Jim unconditionally she said “Yes. As a matter of fact, I just came back from Nigeria. I went to be with him and to provide support during this trying period. No relationship is without challenges – the true test of such a relationship lies in the way and manner you handle things when you hit bumps on the way.”
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