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NFLL House: Those who did this to me are not fair – Obaseki

*He is very bitter, sad and full of regrets

*How Babalola, Gusau compromised N1.2bn

Bitter and sad, the former Nigeria Football League Limited (NFLL) chairman, Jackson Oyuiki-Obaseki, has wondered why the building his administration acquired to boost the league was left to be taken over by Sterling Bank. He said, “why did you journalists allow this to happen to me? Those who did this to me are not fair. I am bitter and sad.”

“It’s a big shame. I felt very bad because it rubbished the good I’m supposed to have done. How many chairmen buy their own offices despite all the money they are given? How many think of buying a property for the company?

“Instead they want to be paying rent and making money along the line. But I was not cut out for that; I was out to give a home to the league, somewhere we could call our own. And we started by acquiring the property. But I feel very bad right now, knowing that the place has been taken over by a bank.”

It would be recalled that the NFLL under Chief Jackson Oyuiki-Obaseki had bought the property on 31 Karaye Street, Garki II, Abuja, in 2009 with a loan from Equatorial Trust Bank (now Sterling Bank). However, the league body has been unable to pay the remaining N128million balance of the loan, leading to the seizure of the property by the bank.

The Benin High chief said he initiated the idea of buying the building, after the financial burden of paying rents in Abuja took its toll on the NFLL.

“We discussed at our board meeting that we should have a property of our own because the rent was getting too exorbitant. I set up a committee and they got this building. When I went to look at it, I was very happy. There were two buildings but I got an architect who did the marriage of both and we paid for it,” he stated.

In sourcing for funds to buy the property, Oyuiki-Obaseki recalled that he had approached the then title rights sponsor of the league, a major player in the telecoms sector, Globacom Nigeria Limited, as well as in the defunct Equatorial Trust Bank.

And it was through the auspices of that connection that Equatorial Trust Bank granted NFLL the loan. However, things reportedly went sour between the NFLL and the major telecoms firm as the latter allegedly didn’t meet its financial obligations to the league for two seasons under Obaseki.

The matter ended in court, with the NFLL asking for its sponsorship payment from the telecoms company. The matter with suit no: LD/451/2010 was adjudicated in favour of the league body. A judgment debt of N1.2billion was awarded to the football league.

However, there was an inexplicable twist thereafter when Tunji Babalola, then NFLL acting secretary and the late Shehu Gusau, then NFLL acting chairman, signed a compromise of the judgment agreement with the telecoms firm on 6th April, 2011, accepting only N350million from the judgment debt of N1.2billion.

Babalola and Gusau in signing the agreement, thus compromised N850million, and also did not include the remaining N128million loan used for the purchase of the NFLL building granted by Equatorial Trust Bank, which had same ownership roots as the major telecoms firm.

Equatorial Trust Bank later metamorphosed into Sterling Bank, turned around and got a court order to seize the building in January.

Ever since collecting the loan for the acquisition of the building eight years ago, the league body under various leaderships – Davidson Owumi and Rumson Baribote – as well as an interim League Management Committee and the Sam Sam Jaja board instituted by the Chris Giwa faction of the Nigeria Football Federation has been unable to pay a part or all of the N128million, thus leading to the action of the bank, which got a court ruling, in taking over the place.

It would be on record that Sterling Bank secured a court order on 24th January to seize the property in question.

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