Sani Lulu

The anger and frustration that trailed Nigeria’s poor performance at the world cup has not only claimed the job of the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Alhaji Sani Lulu but also earned him an invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Lulu and three others were invited by the anti-corruption agency over alleged multi-billion fraud in the running of the body.
They would have an opportunity to explain themselves tomorrow.Others invited for interrogation are the former Vice-President of the organisation Amanze Uchegbulam, former Head Technical Committee Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, and the incumbent Secretary-General Mr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba.

EFCC Spokesman Mr. Femi Babafemi confirmed their invitation.  THISDAY reports indicates that the former football administrators were being investigated for alleged fraud and mismanagement of NFF funds.
They were accused of mismanaging billions of naira which included $125,000, $250,000 dollars, N34 million, $400,000 including the stolen $236,000, all money related to football administration.

They were equally alleged to have mismanaged funds received from the Federation of International Football Associa-tions (FIFA), Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) and other sponsors, in the course of preparation for the on-going 2010 World Cup in South-Africa.

It was alleged that some of the funds received from these organisations include $1 million and $200,000.
The officials are also being investigated on allegations that they gave N185 million to the 37 state football associations at N5 million each to support them in questionable circumstances.

The affected officials were alleged to have squandered another $5 million said to be proceeds of marketing from FIFA. Documents obtained by THISDAY revealed that a total of 300 people were on the delegate list to the World Cup.While 158 were on the original list, an additional list had 142 people, with many of them labeled stakeholders and ex-players.

President Goodluck Jonathan had ordered a probe of the NFF following the disastrous outing of the Super Eagles at the World Cup. The team had managed a draw and two losses before crashing out at the preliminary stage.
Jonathan had earlier withdrawn the country from all international football competitions for two years but reversed the decision following a threat by FIFA to sanction Nigeria.

Lulu, Uchegbulam and Ogunjobi were later impeached by the NFF board to appease the President and the body pledged to restore sanity in the nation’s football. The President also vowed to get whoever was found culpable in the alleged scam punished.
NFF’s spending in the last four years has come under scrutiny with sports ministry sources disclosing yesterday that the body got the sum of N6.8 billion as allocation from government over the period.

NFF is an autonomous body with an elected board which ensures its runnning in line with the statutes. It auguments its sources of finance from sponsorship funds and international grants with what it receives as annual government subventions.
THISDAY learnt that the total grants that was due to it as a government agency was given to cushion the huge cost of its activities.
Focus on the NFF came to a head over the weekend when the board impeached the leadership. Messrs Aminu Maigari and Obinna Ogba have since been appointed on interim capacity as the president and vice-president respectively.

But their appointment will be subject to confirmation at the extraordinary general assembly, which is the congress of the expanded stakeholders in Abuja on Friday.

The congress is expected to grill the board over the World Cup and other related spending.
NFF got N900 million from governemnt to prosecute the World Cup campaign.But a shape of the direction the congress would take was given last night by Sports Minister Mr. Ibrahim Isa Bio during the inaguration of the 11-man Presidential Committee for football development.

The minister who is also the Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC) allleged that a staggering sum of $264,000 (about N39.6 million) was spent by NFF to purchase tickets during the World Cup. The money, according to Bio, was drawn from the $1million FIFA grants to all the teams participating at the World Cup.
Bio said NFF used the FIFA allocation to pay off the salary arrears of former National Coach Berti Vogts, to the tune of $213,217 (about N32million). Vogts had reported the federation to FIFA for breach of contract.
In the heat of the moment, the NFF board had an emergency meeting yesterday, the second in seven days, to review the state of its affiars.

At the end of the meeting presided over by Maigari, the board resolved that all issues surroundng the proposed elections billed for August 21, will now be discussed by the congress made up of the state FA chairmen and their secretaries.
The congress will also decide whether to extend the tenure of the current board by five months to ensure a smooth election.
The board also instituted a national U-16 tournament for male and female among the 774 local councils in the country to be called the President Goodluck Jonathan Cup.
It resolved that it would pay particular attention to age grade football development, ensuring that age cheats are rooted out from representing the national teams.
Meanwhile, FIFA has formally stayed action on enforcing a ban on Nigeria and has even gone on to acknowledge the change of guards at NFF.

FIFA had threatened to suspend Nigeria after President Jonathan decided to withdraw the country’s national teams from international competitions and disband the NFF board.
But following a last-minute reprieve from the Presidency before Monday’s 5pm FIFA deadline, the football body later released a statement in the night saying it would no longer be carrying out its suspension threat after it had received a letter from Aso Rock informing it of government’s decision.

The press statement issued from FIFA’s media department in Johannesburg also indicated that the football body had endorsed the changes made at the Glass House, which saw NFF’s principal officers notably president, Lulu, first vice-president, Uchegbulam, and head of technical committee, Ogunjobi, removed.

The full release titled: “‘FIFA statement regarding Nigerian Football Federation’ reads thus: “The Nigerian Government has today confirmed in a letter to FIFA that it revokes its decision to withdraw Nigeria’s participation in all FIFA and CAF organised competitions of the next two years. In addition, the Nigerian Government also recognises the currently elected executives of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).

“The letter was received by FIFA before the deadline set last Friday 2 July, and follows mediation talks between FIFA Executive Committee member Dr Amos Adamu and the Nigerian Government. Therefore, the NFF remains vested with all its statutory rights.”
The amicable resolution to the face-off means that Nigeria’s Falconets will still be able to take part in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which kicks off in Germany two days after the final match of South Africa 2010 on Sunday.

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