Tuesday 10 July 2018

/ by Colin Udoh

EFCC investigation of Amaju, Dikko, others: NFF denies any wrong doing, waiting for invitation

The leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation led by Amaju Pinnick, Shehu Dikko, Seyi Akinwunmi, Ahmed Fresh and Sanusi Mohammed, has denied any wrong doing as the EFCC commenced corruption investigation against them as published by the Special Adviser, Media to the Sports Minister, Nneka Ikem Anibeze, on July 6, 2018.

The leadership denied all the allegations contained in the petition authored by Mr. James Peters, a football coach, which the NFF have tagged baseless and imputations of wrong doing.

The Chairman, Media Committee of the NFF, Honourable Suleiman Yahaya Kwande, said in a signed press statement Tuesday that, it is on record that the NFF under the leadership of Amaju Melvin Pinnick has been the most successful in Nigeria to date in terms accountability and probity. “Till date, the leadership of the NFF has not been invited by any anti-corruption or indeed, any agency of government to explain the allegations contained in the said petition or even called upon to give an account of its stewardship.

“The NFF wishes to assure the public that, if eventually it is called upon, the leadership would cooperate fully with any agency concerned and give a robust explanation of its financial activities, as the NFF under Amaju Pinnick has entrenched transparency and international best practices as its mantra and has therefore not contravene Laws of the land.”

Kwande, noted that, the Financial Derivatives Ltd (FDC) which was wrongly labeled by James Peters, who does not have any financial or business management training, as the conduit which the NFF embezzles money, is one of the major and most credible financial services companies in Nigeria with records of high reputations and integrity. FDC was not appointed as NFF Financial Advisers by Amaju Pinnick as alleged by the Petitioner but by the NFF Congress, the supreme legislative body of the NFF, pursuant to the provisions of the NFF Statutes, at its 70th Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on November 23rd, 2014. In addition to the FDC, two other companies were also appointed at the 70th AGM on November 23rd 2014- they are PricewaterHouseCoopers (PWC) as External Auditors and Bain and Co, as Management Consultants. These appointments were made on the recommendations of the Executive Committee and with the sole objective to bring in the world class professionalism, transparency, integrity and international best practices especially in financial management of the NFF. FDC has been working for the NFF since 2014 with due audited accounts prepared annually as required by Law, thus one wonders how FDC has suddenly become an issue of petition in 2018.”

He added: “It must be put on record that funds from sponsors are not NFF revenues to be paid to revenue accounts but operational funds provided by sponsors for specific purposes such as payments for coaches, competitions, events and other developmental programmes as agreed with the sponsors in each case. The sponsors are fully in control and fully aware of how and when their funds are being applied and for what purpose.

“In addition to the above process, the NFF leadership ensured that at any time it received funds from sponsors, FIFA or CAF, an information Memo is duly sent to the Hon. Minister of Sports to notify the Government of the receipts of the funds, where the funds is domiciled (TSA or Remittal or FDC) and how it is going to be applied, including payment due to any marketing agency. Indeed the Minister has praised and or defended the NFF several times before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for this show of transparency as it’s the first regime of the NFF to duly notify Government of all its sources of funding, receipts and application. There are several representations to the Government (Ministry of Finance and Accountant-General’s Office) by NFF, duly supported by the Hon. Minister of Sports, and National Assembly to completely exempt the NFF from the TSA. It is in recognition of this demand, that even the NFF Bill already passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly and awaiting transmittal to the President/Commander-In-Chief for assent, duly made provisions to exempt the NFF from TSA. In any case, NFF still uses the TSA for its Government subventions and funds from donor agencies like FIFA and CAF even though both FIFA and CAF, arising from the 2016 FIFA process review programme have written to demand separate account be opened for their funds in commercial banks so they can audit and track their funds early.”

Kwande stated that the claim by James Peters that Mediterranean Sports Ltd (MSL) belongs to the NFF Vice president, Shehu Dikko, is erroneous and misleading. The Meditarranean Sports Ltd (MSL) is a sports promotion company founded in 2004 and was even affiliated to NFF in 2005 (10 years before Mallam Dikko became an NFF Exco Member), when it promoted the Abuja Corporate Football League to which NFF (NFA) was a participant. Mallam Dikko is not and has never been the owner of MSL as alleged by the Petitioner, Dikko only associated with the company in 2013 in the course of his involvement with sports development project where he served as mere Director on advisory capacity, a role he duly resigned since March 2014. It is shocking to see a misguided petition in 2018 against a corporate entity that has had transactional dealings with the NFF (NFA) since 2005, when in fact they are bringing value added benefits to the NFF and assisting in solving the perennial lack of funds bedeviling the Football Federation.

“The NFF has four marketing agencies: Mediterranean Sports, Padmozi, Hotsports and USP. The agents are paid agreed 20 percent fees after providing value added services to the NFF,” Kwande said, adding that: “On the issue of paying 40 percent commission to any agency as alluded in the said petition and put out in the Media release, this is totally untrue and deliberately put out to make the fictitious claims by the Petitioner look real. NFF pays only a maximum of 20 percent in line with international best practices. It is on record that, the Ministry of Sports, when it hired an agency to organise the Fund Raising Dinner for the Super Eagles 2018 World Cup participation, approved 30 percent fee for the marketing agency and even gave it the right to collect the donated funds directly into its account. The Ministry of Sports even requested the NFF (Marketing Committee) to assist and guide the agency to ensure they deliver a professional project, which included vetting the MOU between them and Ministry to ensure no conflict with NFF events and or sponsors. The NFF duly complied and the Fund Raising was a success. Thus, unknown to the petitioner, the issue of payment of fees depends on what is agreed between the parties based on the nature of the project and work to be done.

“We are glad and delighted that despite the glaring malevolent intention of the Petitioner, Coach James Peters, he could not find any reason to accuse the NFF of taking any funds (either Government or from Sponsors) but rather his petition bothers simply on issues of process and procedures, which he has no competence, capacity or experience to understand by his training as a coach with no management background. We thus urge the general public to disregard these allegations arising from the Petitioner as it is the words of disgruntled elements and interlopers who are pawns in the hands of some people with vested interest to smear and embarrass the NFF and its leadership for political gains," Suleiman Kwande said.

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