Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Controversy trails AFCON 2013 funding as court freezes NFF account

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The Sports Ministry may directly fund Nigeria’s Nations Cup participation.

A new twist was added to Nigeria’s football administration as a Federal High Court in Lagos, Thursday, froze the account of the Nigeria Football Federation.

The court froze the account over allegations of unpaid debt by the federation.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the crisis started about 10-years ago when the Nigeria Premier League was still a department at the then Nigeria Football Association.

A TV Station, Minaj Broadcast International, reportedly paid $4 million to buy the broadcasting right for the league matches, but could not air the games. Minaj was then owned by Mike Ajegbo, a former Senator, but has since been reportedly sold to Christ Embassy owned by flamboyant pastor, Chris Oyakhilome.

Though details are still sketchy, sources at the Nigeria Football Federation told PREMIUM TIMES that the federation was issued a court order last year which asked that half of the $4 million be paid to the broadcast house while the other half would be paid this year.

The failure of the NFF to make the payment made the judge give the order to freeze the account on Thursday.

AFCON funding

The court order has also put a halt to the direct funding for the 2013 African Nations Cup. The Sports Ministry was expected to pay $8 million into the account of the NFF for the Nations Cup holding in South Africa in January, 2013.

“I believe it is because the Minaj people heard we were expecting this money from the NSC (National Sports Commission) that they quickly rushed to court (again),” a top official of the federation told PREMIUM TIMES.

With the order, the sports commission is reluctant to make any payment to the NFF for the AFCON and may instead directly handle necessary payments, our source said.

The spokesperson for the concerned associations however claimed ignorance of the situation.

NFF/ NSC claim ignorance

The spokesperson for the NFF, Demola Olajire, said he is not aware of the new development.

”I’m not aware of that development, I’ve not been around I just got back to Abuja,” Mr. Olajire said.

When PREMIUM TIMES sought the reaction of the sports ministry, the spokesperson to Bolaji Abdullahi, the sports minister, said he has no details about the payment.

“I don’t know when the money will be paid into their (NFF) account, the ministry is to handle it,” Julius Ogunro, the minister’s aide, said.

The Super Eagles are already in Faro, Portugal preparing for the Nations Cup.

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