By Akeem Busari.
The crisis that recently engulfed the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, came up with a new twist as the club in a release, blamed the NFF and the Minister of Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, for its troubles.
According to the press release made available by the Secretary - General of the NFSC, Rev. Sam lkpea, what seemed like an internal matter was taking to another level with the unwarranted interference of the sports minister.
"Ever since the Minister of Sports was appointed to the office, his ill-advised moves and meddlesome nature has brought more discord and lack of development to virtually all the sports associations in the country, "Ikpea lamented.
The NFSC scribe went on to do a recap of the problems that has bedevilled the club recently.
" Dalung recently unsuccessfully tried to infiltrate into the award winning and globally renowned NFSC by encouraging discord within the club.
"Against all reasonable justifications, the minister decided to line behind an impeached acting national chairman, Vincent Okumagba, who was appointed in acting capacities pending a new election, after the resignation of the substantive national chairman, Otunba Yisa Bashorun, due to ill health and eventual death.
"Okumagba became power hungry and began to display flagrant acts of indiscipline, blackmail, harassment and indiscriminate arrest of members, and disregards for the constituted authorities of the club, including the elders and the board of trustees.
"While claiming that he has the backings of the federal powers, Okumagba, went ahead to set up a dissident group that included members who had been suspended on various offences such as stealing, blackmail and anti-club activities. He also recruited band boys from the streets,supposedly as members of the club, "he explained.
He continued,"Even when the club called a meeting of its national executive council in Lagos, ostensibly to look into the happenings within the club and to also feel the pulse of members on the plans for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, in view of the fact that members would as usual, cough out their personal money to be part of the event.
"Okumagba declined the invitation and rather called up an illegal meeting in Ilorin,to destabilize the Lagos meeting. And testing his popularity before the illegal gathering, he boasted that he has the federal powers and that of the sports minister. And thereby, promised to take the few errant members, free of charge to Brazil. "
According to Ikpea, all the state chapters of the club, except Delta, Bayelsa and Oyo states attended the Lagos meeting. Where after deliberations, a unanimous decision was taken by the members and it duly impeached Okumagba, for several offences including anti-club activities. And his impeachment was duly communicated to all football and sports stakeholders, as well as the Nigeria Police.
"There are documents and video recordings of his impeachment. I also have documents to prove that Okumagba in connivance with the minister came up with a list of 177 names of dismissed and suspended members which was submitted to the Brazil Embassy for visas.
"Investigations by the embassy revealed that 43 of the applicants submitted fake bank statements and letters written on a forged NFSC letterhead. Eventually, the embassy invited the Interpol into the matter, and a suspended member of the club, Kemi Popoola, who had earlier gone to the NFF and the sports minister to accuse and blackmail me of visa racketeering, was arrested for forgery after it was revealed that huge sums of money was paid into her account by those fake members, "he further disclosed.
The NFSC scribe went on to express total dismay on the blatant complicity of the office of the minister of sports, on the now combustive issue.
" To our dismay, a letter came forth from the office of the minister, directing that Okumagba should be recognised as the chairman of the NFSC. Other letters were sent to the Nigeria Police for support, as well as the Cross Rivers state government seeking for funds to go to Rio.
"The office of the minister of sports also wrote to our sponsors, Globacom to recognise Okumagba as the chairman and to pay him our sponsorship money. All these smirks of gross abuse of office on the part of the minister, "he stated.
Conclusively, he admonished the federal government to be wary of placing the fortunes and future of Nigerian sports and particularly, the youths in the hands of myopic and clueless officials.
" It is a fact that sports, particularly, football has been a rallying point, as well as a unifying factor to bring peace, unity and love to the people. "Therefore, the presidency should call the office of the minister to order. He should not be allowed to destroy our sports, which has continued to serve as panacea to our myriad of political and socio-economic problems," he added.
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