By James Shamange
There is no iota of doubt that Benue State football stakeholders and fans of Lobi Stars football club have completely rejected Dominic Iorfa as vice chairman of the club over his high handedness and corrupt practices.
The outright rejection of the self acclaimed best football administrator in Nigeria was demonstrated openly when Governor Hyacinth Alia had an interactive session with the stakeholders, fans, players and officials of the club three weeks ago.
Although the committee set up by the governor to investigate into the allegations levelled against the embattled Vice-Chairman of Lobi Stars refused to do a thorough job, it at least managed to recommend that the board which Iorfa is part of, should be dissolved.
Since then we have seen and heard several conspiracy theories from Iorfa and his accomplices like the Director of Sports, Philip Nongo, who is bent on convincing and misleading the governor in order to prolong the stay of the unpopular vice-chairman.
It is rather disturbing that the zeal the governor had shown during the interactive session appears to have waned as his first promises and the second through the Deputy Governor have not been kept without any explanation. However, after I listened to the governor’s Radio interview on his 100 days in office, I was convinced that he understands the urgency of the matter before him.
Against this background, I would once again draw the attention of His Excellency to the reasons behind the calls for the immediate removal of Iorfa for he has failed to clear himself of the following:
1. He diverted the entire March 2022 salary when he returned as Vice-chairman of the club and till this moment it has not been paid. The captain of the club, Daniel Atsaka testified to this during the interactive session.
2. Falsified a board resolution and opened an illegal bank account in the name of Lobi Stars Football Club with HSBC London with his wife and children as directors and diverted for personal use a whopping €500,000 that accrued to the club from the sale of Taye Taiwo to Olympic Marseille France.
3. Sold two club buses (14 and 32 seaters) illegally without meeting the approved procedure for sale of public assets and diverted the money for personal use. The Assets Recovery Committee recovered the 14 seater though without any engine and the 32 seater is yet to be recovered.
4. For no reason and without approval from the board, he stopped paying over 30 staff of the club. The staff are presently in the Industrial Court seeking redress.
5. Disbanded the club academy, rendered the staff and players jobless, in defiance to the noble intention of the government to create employment for the youth of the state.
6. He diverted $150,000 dollars that accrued from the sale of Tony Okpotu to Al- Ittihad Libya.
7. The management approved N1.5 million for the medical bills of a board member Late Iornyagh Aguda but he released only N100,000.
8. He terminated Lobi Stars medical retainership with King’s Cross Hospital without paying the outstanding bills and has failed to engage another. His high-handed action led to health complications of many staff. Sadly, two died within the period. King’s Cross Hospital is in court over the matter and the case is due for judgement delivery.
9. His professional misconduct is unrelenting as he has been mentioned in about three match fixing cases, and has been fined three times in 12 months for infractions on the NPFL Framework.
10. Surprisingly, Iorfa in his unrepentant nature to fiscal indiscipline mis- managed the 120 Million Naira released to the club a week ago to pay the three months salary arrears. Some staff were paid one month, some two, some three but with unexplainable shortages, some were not paid completely. The Governor can do his fact check.
It is based on the above and many other reasons which I wouldn’t want to bother my readers with that I want to boldly say that no matter the pressure being mounted on him by those who are hands in gloves with Iorfa, Governor Alia shouldn’t even contemplate retaining him as the vice-chairman of Lobi Stars.
Some of these issues mentioned above are being investigated by the EFCC. The governor may contact the EFCC who have discovered more damning revelations in the course of investigation.
I can’t see how Governor Hyacinth Alia whose morality, integrity, uprightness and respect for ethical values catapulted him to his exalted position as the number one citizen of Benue State will tolerate Iorfa with his stinking iniquities.
As a matter of fact, it will be meaningless and ridiculous for anyone to go before the governor to attempt to hoodwink him that a highly corrupt Iorfa with minimal education is the only one left in Benue State to manage the club. This is because others had performed far better than him.
It will be recalled that out of the five CEOs of Lobi Stars in it’s professional life (Tersoo Luga, Wanongo Ugbema, Mike Idoko, Tama Aondofa), Iorfa only surpassed Tama Aondofa. Even Aondofa was a victim of the conspiracy orchestrated by the same Iorfa, the then Deputy Governor, Benson Abuonu, Philip Nongo, among others to oust him. So, the Governor shouldn’t allow anyone to feed him with lies.
Iorfa clearly lacks education, fiscal discipline and moral footing to hold a public office. He does not believe laid down rules and regulations. I think the Governor is too intelligent to be fooled by people who are half clever. Listening to insinuations that Iorfa is indispensable is tantamount to saying Samuel Ortom as Governor was indispensable. Whoever is trying to convince the Governor to retain Iorfa does not mean well for the club.
The stakeholders who have openly rejected Iorfa are well versed in football business and administration and should be the ones to confer the tag of indispensability on Iorfa if any. However, they have seen through his emptiness and are saying enough is enough.
Iorfa cannot claim to love Benue State more than Rev Fr Alia and the rest of us and he shouldn’t be desperate to serve when the body language of the Governor and people has shown clearly that he is a persona non grata. He can not be more Catholic than the pope.
Benue State football stakeholders have unanimously rejected Iorfa. Consequently, his accomplices can’t impose him on the people. It is doubtful if Governor Alia will fall prey to his cheap antics. He is free to go and prove his capacity in football administration elsewhere.