BY JACOB AJOM and JUDE OPARA, Abuja
President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Aminu Maigari has been impeached. Maigari who was re-instated last week after a Jos High Court vacated an injunction that sacked him and his board was thrown out of office after the Executive Committee passed a vote of no confidence on his leadership and accussed him of financial misappropriation.
Eight members of the board endorsed the impeachment including; the first vice president Chief Mike Umeh, Chairman of chairmen, Chief Effiong Johnson, Dr. Shehu Adamu, Mrs. Dilichukwu Onyedinma, Alhaji Muazu Suleyman, Deji Tinubu and Mallam Ahmed Kawu.
The impeachment of the NFF president, Alhaji Aminu Maigari may not have surprised most followers of Nigerian football. Apart from the fact that it has become like a culture that during each elective year, there will be one form of crisis that will eventually sweep away the sitting president, the case of Maigari may be slightly different.
Immediately after the country won the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), the impression was created in certain quarters that since it was Maigari’s board that was able to win the continental trophy after the Tunisia 1994 victory, he was supposed to have a second term.
Interestingly, that success was also what divided the board as some members who have been described as a cabal by the group that impeached Maigari literally hijacked the Bauchi State born football administrator so much so that only a few of them used to take far reaching decisions concerning the running of the nation’s football.
Before now, the board members had agreed to support each other so that if possible all of them could return to the board in the August 26 elective congress of the NFF, but little did they know that Maigari and some anointed members had other ideas.
Sources at the Glasshouse told Sports Vanguard that the chairman of the technical committee, Barr. Chris Green, board member, Ahmed Fresh and the chairman of the communications committee, Chief Emeka Inyama were the arrow heads that allegedly manipulated Maigari.
“The secret manner he ran the federation’s affairs, particularly, financial dealings was first blown open when the former Director General of the National Sports Commission, Pat Ekeji questioned why match bonuses and allowances of some Super Eagles assistant coaches were slashed when government had released about N850m (Eight Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) to the football federation for the prosecution of the Afcon 2013 tournament.
“That development led to the sack of Super Eagles Assistant coach, Sylvanus Okpala by Maigari who swore never to forgive Okpala even if President Goodluck Jonathan intervened,” our source recalled.
It is now clear that most members of the board were not aware of the actual amount government released for the Cup of Nations in South Africa until the Ekeji incident. It is same for the recently concluded FIFA World Cup in Brazil as members of the board remain in the dark over how much the federation was given.
It was further learnt that before the World Cup, only the four of them allegedly took decisions of how to plot the country’s participation at the championship including such issues like who got what and how the contracts were awarded.
But the final straw that broke the camel’s back was in Brazil where it was said that unknown to other members, all the four had already purchased their forms for the next election even as the electoral committee was yet to make the sale of forms public.
And to perfect the plot, it was further said that Green, the chairman of the technical committee who left the country the same day with the Super Eagles players and stayed all through their camping in London and America left the team during the competition proper and the first vice president, Chief Mike Umeh was mandated to stay with the team while the ‘Super Four’ stayed together to perfect their return to the board.
The plot soon became a matter of public discourse as soon as Nigeria crashed out of the championship in the second round and that was what actually angered the rest coupled with all the alleged known excesses of Maigari and his kitchen cabinet. So they decided to take their pound of flesh.
The sacking of the entire board and the management team by a Jos High Court and the subsequent appointment of Lawrence Katken as the acting general secretary brought the first opportunity for the aggrieved group to fight back, but the FIFA ban actually postponed the evil day.
Recall that immediately after FIFA lifted the suspension slammed on Nigeria following the withdrawal of the suit by Mrs. Ruth Baribote, the angry board members wanted to remove Maigari during the meeting but the absence of Enyimba of Aba chairman, Felix Anyansi-Agwu hindered the plot but set the stage for what happened yesterday.
In fact before the crisis meeting of yesterday, it was clear that the board was entirely torn into two; one group was still loyal to Maigari while the other led by Chief Mike Umeh was against him. And that also reflected in how they arrived for the meeting which did not last for up to 30 minutes before the impeachment was announced.
The Umeh group was the first to arrive the NFF secretariat while Maigari and his team arrived few minutes to 12 noon, underscoring the fact that each faction was meeting secretly and strategising on how to carry out their plan.