*We will do everything to rescue that building from Sterling Bank
*We were very transparent in all we did about Karaye – Barrister Isaac Danladi
With the informed knowledge that there is a N244m television broadcast money belonging to the NFLL from the rights holder Total Promotions Nigeria, I had to diplomatically step aside and NANF took the matter to the EFCC all because we wanted to save the Karaye headquarters but its sad the officials failed to use some of the money to service loan used in acquiring the property.
This is what factional President of the National Association of Nigerian Footballers, Harrison Jalla told www.gongnews.net saying that, “we had petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the release of the money by broadcast rights holder Total Promotions to secure the premises.
He added that, “On the directive of the ant-graft agency, Total Promotions lodged the N244million Union Bank draft, which was part of the money for three league seasons, with the Lagos division of the EFCC on 23rd June, 2016.
The money was transferred from the NFLL Zenith Bank account to the Club Owners Association of Nigeria account by Tunji Babalola (ex-NFLL secretary and account signatory A) and Esther Adesuyi (ex-NFLL clerk and account signatory B). From that moment, the money took a new twist. Saddest, no consideration was given to paying back some or all of the loan collected to acquire the property.
Asked what is the new way forward now, Jalla, a former Flash Flamingoes of Benin defender said, “I have taken the fraud to the Police. If I knew this is what the situation would be, I would not have made the officials of Total Promotion bring out the money.”
Readers would recall that www.gongnews.net undertook a deep investigation which showed that the transfer of the money from the NFLL Zenith Bank account to that of the club owners may have been aided by a forged utility bill from the Federal Capital Territory Water Board Authority.
How Sterling Bank came to take over the building: A prominent member of the League Management Company (LMC) had eyed the building. He is very close to Globacom. They had concluded arrangements to make the bank seize the building and resell it to him until he was schemed out of the LMC.
On this particular January date, about two dozen policemen came in with a court bailiff. The man said they had come to take over the building on the orders of the court. He showed us the papers. Officials of Sterling Bank then came in and we pleaded with them to allow us call our lawyer. But they said they were not there to negotiate with us but to execute the court judgment.
“We also pleaded with them that we were not aware of the judgment. The previous boards didn’t notify us of such judgment. One of them started kicking the doors and breaking them, like a scene from a movie.
“They brought in people to help them move the company’s property outside; they packed TVs, computers and chairs outside. Thank God it wasn’t raining season. They locked the place and put their own security operatives on duty ever since.”
Speaking further, our source said one of the men, who had come to take possession of the building, expressed displeasure over the NFLL’s failure to pay a part of the debt from the N244m.
“It was while all these was happening that one of them said ‘NFLL got money, shared it amongst themselves, didn’t bother to pay us for the building and they want us to keep quiet.’ They said we paid others and ignored them. It was touching,” he added.
NFFL Karaye Office: Rightly or wrongly, Harrison Jalla had set the tone. He said, as soon as the money was going to be released, I sent message to Isaac Danladi about how to spend the money where I suggested they should pay off Sterling Bank and secure the premise which fell on deaf ears.
How the money was shared by the club owners without consideration for the Karaye property has also been an issue of contention by stakeholders in recent weeks.
Isaac Danladi, chairman of the club owners, who played a major role in the sharing of the money in a published interview with www.gongnews.net insisted that they applied due process in sharing the money, adding that they paid utility bills and arrears of security guards but intoned that the Karaye NFLL property is receiving “legal attention.”
Danladi stated, “In whatever we did, we applied due process; We shared the formular with the NFF, EFCC and the 25 clubs got their share. It’s just that nobody can force us to publicise what we did,” in reference to the demands of Jalla.
“People are saying we should have used the TV rights money to pay for the building but the clubs wouldn’t have forgiven us. You cannot rob Peter to pay Paul. We are giving the Karaye building issue legal attention. Even EFCC is on the matter right now. There was a time a compromise agreement was signed to liquidate the bill but EFCC says no, every kobo must be returned.
Jalla must be confused: Isaac Danladi retorted after Jalla reacted to his interview saying, “again, the same people who say club owners are not known to the statutes are the ones saying we should go and pay for the property. Is that not ironical? If they say we are unknown to the NFLL statutes, why are they now accusing us of not taking over our property?”
NANF in tatters: For writing the petition against Total Promotions Nigeria, our sources claimed that NANF received N24m (10 per cent of the money) from the club owners. A separate source claimed, it was N20million.
There was a picture where Harrison Jalla, erstwhile president of the players union, collected the cheque from the duo of Isaac Danladi and Tunji Babalola with Larry Kubeinje, the acting president, who signed the EFCC letter.
NANF in a statement signed by Jalla, titled ‘Re: Crisis rocks Nigerian football over N244m TV money’ and dated 20th February, 2017, lamented how the club owners disbursed the money in “secrecy”, saying one of the major reasons the petition was written was to service the bank loan and also maintain the secretariat of the league body.
The statement read, “As we speak, the disbursement of the N244m has been shrouded in secrecy; even the percentage to NANF was diverted to an illegal account. That matter is currently under police investigation.
“The idea behind NANF’s petition was to recover several millions of Naira of football money to ensure the outstanding salaries, allowances and contract fees of players, coaches, and managers were paid; the Sterling Bank loan of N128m to the Nigeria Football League was serviced, outstanding debts of NFL paid and running cost of the Nigeria Football League secretariat set aside. None of the above initiative was achieved; the N244m was frittered away by frivolous claims.”
Speaking further, Jalla insisted that NANF would ensure that they retained the property back from the bank. “Sterling Bank as far as we are concerned is part of Globacom Nigeria, who owe the league over N1billionn. But some people went behind the scene, took some money and said they had compromised the judgment. Those issues are before the EFCC.
“We are exploiting all avenues to ensure that the decision of the High Court is appealed. We can’t lose that building, it’s not possible because the current value of the property is over N700million and is sited in Garki.”
Ambassador Giwa made it habitable until now: Kasali Obanoyen, who was installed last year by Giwa’s NFF as the NFLL executive secretary, said the building was virtually inhabitable when he assumed office.
“It was in total dilapidation and not habitable by any standard. There were cockroaches, rats and even snakes in the building. The roof was leaking, the walls were peeling and there was water everywhere; the building was in a total state of decadence and decay,” he stated.
“Nobody thought the place was habitable again until Ambassador Chris Giwa pumped in some money and that’s why we’ve been able to sustain and have the place fairly habitable leading to 24th January, when it was sealed.
“It took a unit of the policemen attached to the building to kill some snakes when we were trying to remove the branches of trees and weeds in the compound. The building was almost at the state of despair completely.
“When they kept asking me what my interest in the N244million was when we tried stopping them, I told them that I had no interest other than the building. Let us put in some money from the N244million so that the building is not sealed the way it was done in January.”
Reeking but rotten smell of fraud: Jalla added, “we are in the process and we’ve given the club owners a time frame, so that Nigerians should know how those funds were spent. What is most important for us is to save the building in Garki. Those involved in the fraud would be brought to book.
“They will have to account for the money they spent, so we have to explore those areas possible to ensure they are brought to book any moment from now.
“Once the ultimatum we gave them expires, we will take appropriate steps; there were lots of issues like how the funds were transferred and how much the clubs got. What happened to the balance? So, we need to know those entitled to what and what they did to get what they got.
“That Karaye property belongs to Nigerian football and we will ensure that we don’t lose it, that I can assure you. We’ve made a representation to the EFCC on that.
“They also collected N350m to compromise over N1billion. It’s unacceptable and we urge the EFCC to arraign those concerned and recover the funds for football.”