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Lagos lawyer alleges plans to hijack $2.5 billion Nigerian League

*Irabor, Maigari, Seeking to own league through proposed NFF Act

*It is an attempt to legalise the past illegalities of NFF/LMC Ltd,”

If plans to amend the Nigerian Football Association Act as proposed by soccer ruling body, Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) sails through, then lawmakers at the National Assembly, would have legislated the country’s $2.5 billion worth elite soccer league, the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) ownership into private hands without due process.

A Lagos-based legal practitioner, Rilwan Ali, in a petition sent to House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, which he copied both the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Solomon Dalung, Minister of Sports, alleges that the attempt to amend the NFA Act (as amended) has been booby trapped with clauses that would cede the elite Nigerian soccer league to Nduka Irabor, who was principal signatory to LMC registration at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and fringe ownership by Aminu Maigari, under alleged bogus arrangements as owners of the League Management Company (LMC), an entity the lawyer claims was illegally constituted and registered ab initio.

LMC, formerly League Management Committee, metamorphosed into its current status in 2012 when it took over managing the country’s senior professional soccer league. Its tenure has been acrimonious, though, pundits insist that the elite soccer competition has seen more improvements since LMC came on board.

It generated multiple source of income and investments for the league put conservatively at $2.5 billion, by varied soccer pundits. In 2012, the league was ranked the best in Africa and even ahead of Scottish, in terms of competitiveness. The LMC further led the league to sign high stake deals with La Liga, Spanish league, the Moroccan league and a number of corporate bodies in and outside the country.

But Ali argues that the attempt to replace the extant NFA Act by the proposed amendment is pernicious, fraudulent and not in the interest of the nation. “It is an attempt to legalise the past illegalities of NFF/LMC Ltd,” Ali said adding that public property like the Nigerian league cannot be sold to private individual without due process.

In the petition with covering letter titled, ‘Re: Unconstitutional Attempt to foist in perpetuity the League Management Company Limited (an Illegal entity in the eyes of the law) on the Nigerian Premier League through the proposed NFF Act.

Dated 31st, 0ctober 2017, the lawyer sent the petition to the Senate, the House of Representativess and the Ministry of Sports. In the petition, the lawyer argued that the law can be of no effect because “parliamentary act cannot operate retroactively and/or retrospectively” and that the LMC is dead from birth on account of the manner it was constituted then registered.

“The proposed Act seeks to hand over in perpetuity a public property (the elite premier league) to a private limited liability company, LMC Ltd owned by one private individual by as much as 75 percent share.

“It is incorporated by CAC (itself a creation of an act). The House has not invalidated the CAC Act and so its provision must be respected,” explained the lawyer in his petition.

According to the lawyer, the LMC has only one legal private individual as legal subscriber which is not legal. By relevant section of the CAC act, particularly section 18, two people must incorporate a company. But aside the principal partner, Irabor, at the outset of the partnership, Maigari, who was the other fringe partner arrogated a non-existing title and status to himself while teaming up with Irabor to register the company.

“Alhaji Maigari who swore on oath that he is the president of NFF and not NFA now illegally forged and granted himself, for the purpose of registering the LMC Ltd as second subscriber, a non-existing executive post of ‘NFF Football Administrator’, a post not provided for in the existing NFA Act,” Ali said, arguing that it explains why LMC Ltd is illegal ab-initio.

According to the newspapers findings, there four suits challenging the legitimacy of the LMC registration. These are: Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/4146/2013, Chief Rumson Victor Baribote Vs League Management Company and Alhaji Aminu Maigari; Suit No: FHC/L/CS/706/14, National Association of Nigerian Football (NANF) Vs Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), League Management Company Limited (LMC); Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/107/2013, National Association of Nigerian Football Vs Nduka Irabor and Others and finally, Appeal No: CA/B/158/2015, Suit No: FHC/B/CS/93/14, Between Ben Lawrence Vs LMC and CAC.

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