By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Aggrieved coaches and staff of Lobi Stars Football Club of Makurdi, Tuesday, staged a peaceful protest at the main entrance of Benue State Government House appealing to Governor Samuel Ortom to compel the Dominic Iorfa led management of the club to pay them backlog of six months salaries.
The group had earlier staged a similar protest at the Benue State House of Assembly where they were received by the Chairman House Committee on Sports, Mr. Mr. Thomas Kwagh-Kudi on behalf of the Speaker, Titus Uba.
They tabled their grievances before Mr. Kwagh-Kudi who promised to convey the issues they raised to the Speaker of the House for necessary action.
At the Government House entrance, the protesters some of who brandished their appointment letters led by Coaches John Onuh Abacha, Moses Uvough and others bore placards some of which read, “disbanding youth teams is an aberration to football”, “Governor Ortom please save Lobi Stars”, “Benue people say no to indiscriminate sack of coaches and players”, “Lobi Stars is not Dominic Iorfa’s personal property”, among others.
The protesters who listed their grouse which included among others, the non payment of their salaries in the past six months; the disbandment of the youth teams that were statutory organs of the club and pre-requisites for club licencing and the arbitrary sacking of staff of the Club.
One of the protesters, Coach Sesugh Micheal, an under 20 Coach of the Club, in his account said “I have been an Assistant Coach of Lobi Stars until Dominic Iorfa came in and stopped paying my salaries from March till date. I went for the LaLiga Tournament in April and came back I still didn’t get my salary. In the course of this maltreatment I lost my sick elder brother who I used to buy drugs for. He died because I could not buy his drugs anymore. My children were chased out of school and could not write their third term exams all because I have not been paid my salaries. We are appealing to the Governor Samuel Ortom to intervene in the matter.”
On his part, Coach Moses Uvougho said “since Dominic Iorfa assumed office as Vice Chairman I have not been paid my salaries despite our meetings with him. He only recently claimed that he is not owing anybody. That is why we are here to seek the intervention of the Governor.”
Also, Coach John Onuh popularly known as Abacha on his part said “we are here because we coaches of the academy teams of Lobi Stars have not been paid our salaries since Dominic Iorfa assumed duties as the Vice Chairman of the Club in March. That is the reason we have come to draw the attention of the Governor to the matter so that he can use his good office to intervene in the matter because our families are suffering.”
Meanwhile the Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Club, Mr. Dominic Iorfa had earlier told claimed that the aggrieved personnel were not his staff.
He said, “they are not my staff because when I took over in March I issued a statement that anybody that is not in the first team has to go. And I only picked about four or five coaches. So I do not know the said staff who are talking all over the place that I am owing them salaries of five or six months. I don’t know them.”