Demand For Investigation Of The NFA Board For Corruption Cases
Preamble: The Federal Government of Nigeria has a vested interest in the management, supervision and outcome of football administration in the country. It is in this regard that the National Assembly appropriates monies to the 28 sports federations, including the NFA, through the National Sports Commission (NSC). So long as these processes are involved, there is a public interest function in the management of such funds.
Therefore, we humbly request on this ground for His Excellency to use your good office and statutory powers to cause AN IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION of the issues presented below.
Illegality Of The Name 'NFF': The nomenclature in the country's law books is 'Nigeria Football Association' (NFA). The leadership of the NFA conspired between themselves without following the due process of the land to create a new entity called the NIGERIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION (NFF). This action has created a bottle-neck for legal appropriation of funds by the National Assembly for Nigerian football. Closely linked to this is the fact that NFA Act Cap. No. 110 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (2004), which gives the football house legal backing is still in force till date. Therefore, by law, government, through its sports supervisory agency, the National Sports Commission (NSC) still gives the NFA monies, directives of specific or general nature which they obey under a nomenclature not known to any Nigerian law. It should be noted also that the National Assembly had directed the preservation of the status quo as regards the existing law (NFA Act) but the leadership of the NFF has thus far, ignored this directive.
ADMINISTRATIVE INCOMPETENCE AND FINANCIAL RECKLESSNESS:
a) HAMPSHIRE HOTEL: The NFF forced a sub-standard facility (The Hampshire Hotel) on the LOC of the 2010 World Cup. This hotel was not on the FIFA list of accredited hotels for the World Cup. Nigeria subsequently became a subject of ridicule in the international media. A London-based weekly The News of the World rated the Eagle’s hotel as the cheapest and the poorest of the 32 teams coming for the World Cup. It took the intervention of the Honourable Minister of Sports to get a befitting accommodation for the Super Eagles at Richards Bay. Nigeria had to pay a fine of $125,000 for terminating the NFF contract with Hampshire Hotel.
b) THE AIRCRAFT SAGA: The ministerial advisory committee recommended that the Super Eagles should be flown to South Africa by a Nigerian carrier. The Honourable Minister directed the President of the NFA appropriately. The directive was not obeyed. The alternative the NFF made failed and brought Nigeria again into international odium. The Honourable Minister had to intervene again and arranged for Arik Air to airlift the players from London to South Africa. The NFF claimed they paid $250,000 to the air Charter company that provided the plane.
c) COMPOSITION AND BUDGET OF THE ELECTORAL COMMITTEE: The electoral committee set up by the NFA is not properly constituted. The issue of interest here is how and why the sum of N34m is to be spent for an election with less than 100 delegates; There are insinuations that the Chairman of the committee is a client of the NFA as well as personal lawyer of the chairman of the NFA. He defended the NFA chairman in a suit at the start of his tenure that challenged his election success in 2006. This is morally wrong;
d) NIGERIA VS COLOMBIA FRIENDLY MATCH: It is on record that the friendly match played with Colombia in the build-up to the World Cup in the UK rather than be a source of attracting huge revenue turned out to be a major disaster as a result of poor arrangements. It was played behind closed doors without audience. The NFA ended up spending a whooping and un-budgeted sum of over $400,000 to prosecute the game due to the incompetence of their hired agent.
e) FIFA FLIGHT TICKETS: As a matter of routine, FIFA defrays the travel costs of all teams that qualify for the final rounds of ALL their competitions. For the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the number usually taken care of is fifty, plus the cost of accommodation and local transportation. The begging questions are: What happened to the tickets meant for the Nigerian team? Were the costs of tickets not provided for also by the Federal Government? Or have the tickets been converted for the use of the 'army' of about 300 jamboree party made up of Association Chairmen and others that the NFA sponsored to the World Cup?
f) DELEGATION MEMBERS OF THE NFA TO THE WORLD CUP: There are official records of the NFA that showed that about 300 people were ferried to South Africa for the World Cup. This, according to media reports, included the two wives of the NFA President, Alhaji Abdullahi Sani Lulu, and four of his children. The reports suggested they all earned estacodes. The paid sums do not tally with any provision known with probity and accountability in the land and smirks of overwhelming corruption;
g) MISSING $236,OOO: The disappearance of this huge sum from a 'safe' in the office of NFA last year is still as mind-boggling. The Magistrate that handled the matter was reported to have given judgement at about 9:00pm. There are heavy allegations of his being bribed with a trip to the World Cup. He was alleged to have had his visa procured for himself and children with flight and accommodation in tow. Media outcry probably stalled this;
h) LAGERBACK-HODDLE SCANDAL: This scam, a repeat of the events of 2002 when Shaibu Amodu (MON) was sacked, this time around gave a clear focus of bribery, fraudulent personal benefit of officials in the processes leading to the appointment of Mr. Lars Lagerback. The matter was officially reported by Mr. John Shittu, the FIFA Agent representing Mr. Glenn Hoddle (one of the foreign coaches interviewed) and the case is being investigated by the EFCC. Closely linked to the above is the interview granted by Mr. Sven Goran Erikkson before the World Cup to an international newspaper known as Fotbollskanalen in which he regretted ever applying to coach Nigeria’s National team. He clearly averred that he was approached by some Nigerian officials for kick-backs and he referred them to his agent. His own words: "Then I called some people in FIFA that I know and they told me to take the next available flight and come back home immediately and I did just that. It was a mistake applying for the Nigerian job”. There is a disgrace to the entire Nigerian people.
i) PERSONS UNFIT TO HOLD PUBLIC OFFICES IN NFA: There are allegations and some documents that make some members of the current NFA board unfit to hold public office. Some of them have been dismissed from public office, indicted of financial offences by administrative panels, involved in certificate forgery, impersonation and have been under recent EFCC investigation. We have material evidences.
j) ACCOUNT OF MONIES RECEIVED FROM FIFA/CAF AND SPONSORS: Since the coming to office of the present board of the NFA the income and expenditure pattern of the Football House has been a huge secret. Annual grants from FIFA and CAF running into hundreds of thousands of dollars remain unaccounted for. The same can be said of all marketing and sponsorship royalties obtained from major partners such as Adidas, Globacom, Afribank, Peak Milk and a host of others.
WORLD CUP GRANTS: FIFA released $1million dollars to each of the
k) qualified countries of the 2010 World Cup for training and purposes of adequately preparing their teams. In the case of Nigeria, no costed programme of activity in this respect exists. Where is the money meant for our preparation? How was it disbursed or and spent? Where is the the additional $200,000 FIFA recently released to every National Federation?
l) FAILED IMPEACHMENT: Why have certain board members attempted to impeach the leadership of the board at least twice in the life of the board? It speaks volumes about the reckless expenditure pattern of the Association’s leadership. There was one of the papers detailing the allegations against the leadership which itemized corruption issues. This impeachment saga should be re-visited. Greek gifts in the form of hastily arranged international trips and monetary inducements have been successfully employed at every occasion to thwart the moves. The last attempt early this year led to an alleged N5million pay-out for every board member.
m)ROMANCE WITH STATE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATIONS: In a bid to perpetrate itself in power, the leadership of the NFA has worked out a well orchestrated plan to beat all the 37 state FAs into line. The first was the alleged unwarranted and unearned N5million Greek gift to each state football association as well as the sponsorship of all State FA chairmen to Angola last January as well as to the on-going 2010 World Cup. Many of the FA chairmen are over-running their tenure and they have been donated extension until 2014;
n)OUTSTANDING SCANDAL FROM THE HOSTING OF NIGERIA ’09: It is common knowledge that Nigeria hosted the FIFA U-17 World Youth tournament in Nigeria last year. What is not common knowledge is the level of tales and allegations of financial misappropriation that trailed the organization of that tournament by the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) headed by the NFA boss whose Director of Organisation was the Secretary-General of the NFA. Till date, the books of the LOC have not been reconciled because of massive discrepancies in figures. Contractors are being owed. Many of them owe banks and are dying under the weight of these pains. One major example is the current disagreement with FIFA on the $5 million marketing proceeds which the NFA is insisting should benefit a local marketer who was also a member of the organizing committee!
o) SALE OF NFA GUEST HOUSE AT WUSE: a guest house bought by the NFA has been WILLED over by the Association President, Sani Abdullahi Lulu. The house in question is on Morroco Road in Wuse-Abuja. It was used to quarter the Chairman while his personal house was demolished for renovation with the federation’s funds. The intriguing thing is that after the renovation, the property changed ownership and the file used for the processing and the entire transaction has been declared missing in the NFA secretariat as well as in the AGIS. Having been a staff of the FCTA it is easy for him to get the acts perfected and tracks cleaned out. The entire transaction is shrouded in secrecy and needs to be investigated.
p)TWO FAIRLY-USED BUSES PURCHASED BY NFF: The NFA unveiled two buses it bought for the use of national teams but as with all their transactions, the deal was shrouded in secrecy and possible fraud. The two luxury buses cost a princely sum of N96 million Naira and were purchased for the association through Chief Mike Umeh, the chairman of one of the State Football Associations. But it has come to the fore that the vehicles are not new but fairly-used ones passed off as mint new. It has now become a drain pipe as they now guzzle funds of the Association on daily basis for all manner of repairs. The procurement of the buses did not follow due process as there was no tender, no call for bids and no advertisement for a transaction of that magnitude. This issue needs to be looked into.
CONCLUSION: In the light of the above allegations and several others not mentioned here, I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt, that in the defence of public interest and the national interest of the Federal republic of Nigeria that the strangle-hold of Nigerian football by a cabal that use football to enrich themselves at the expense of our national pride, unity and image, this investigation becomes important.
I, therefore, wish to humbly call on your Commission as advance your statutory powers, investigate and report your findings to the Nigerian nation, prosecute all person(s) found indicted in the cause of your investigation;
PRAYERS: I hereby request that the following prayers be granted:
1. Investigate the above allegations and find out the veracity of the issues in the nation’s interest;
2. There are allegations that certain officials of the current Board worked in the Leventis Group and had some administrative indictment leading to his dismissal. There are further allegations that in a bid to reconstruct that past, monies exchanged hands to influence the cleaning up of the records in the company’s Malu Road, Apapa outlet in Lagos;
3. There is also the indictment of another senior member of the current Board by a federal government panel which recommended he should never hold public office in sports again for life. There is need to find out how the decision of government, reported to have been in a White Paper was sidelined, leading to his return to the NFA;
4. All pending financial fraud investigation at the NFA by various agencies should be acted upon in the interest of tax-payers.