The withdrawal of Zamfara United from the league with only six matches to the end of the season must be investigated, clubs in the NNL say.
Some aggrieved clubs in the Nigeria National League, NNL, have petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over allegations of corruption surrounding the withdrawal of Zamfara United from the competition.
Zamfara United withdrew from the league this month, due to financial difficulties.
The decision did not go down well with many NNL clubs who insisted that the “11th hour” withdrawal was a ploy to accelerate the promotion ambition of a certain club.
It was alleged that the club in question will not be affected by the cancellation of points accumulated by Zamfara United FC.
The clubs, in a petition after their two-day meeting which ended on Thursday in Abuja, said the move was to boost people’s confidence in the league.
They, however, said they would embark on a massive withdrawal from the league if the managers of the NNL failed to take action within seven days.
They added that their return to the league would depend on the outcome of the investigation by the NNL and relevant anti-corruption agencies.
The petition is addressed to the Chairman of the NNL and copied to the Nigeria Football Association, the Sports Minister and the Director-General of the National Sports Commission.
The petition was copied to the Chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Sports, as well as the President of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria.
It reads in part: “That the withdrawal of Zamfara United from the league with only six matches to the end of the season be investigated.
“That the increasing banishment of teams in the league is worrisome and suspicious because in other climes, clubs are not banished but were allowed to play their matches behind closed doors.
“That the league management should investigate the negative role being played by the NNL secretariat in the league.
“There are cases of the league secretariat releasing club information to opposing teams, to enable them get some undue advantage.’’
Commenting on the decision, Ekene Adams, Team Manager of FC Abuja, said that the club had decided to withdraw from the league following the corruption allegation.
Mr. Adams noted that the action was necessary as FC Abuja; a club managed by an anti-corruption agency, EFCC, would not want its hard earned reputation to be soiled.
“As you know, FC Abuja is a club being sponsored by the EFCC and the commission frowns at corruption.
“So if people are fighting corruption and they find out that there is an element of corruption in the league, the commission will have no option than to step aside.
“We will step aside pending the conclusion of investigation before we can talk of continuing with the league,” Mr. Adams said.
He said the NNL secretariat would be informed about their decision as the club was formed to create a platform for youths to display their talent through football.
“We are going to write the NNL to notify them of our stand in the league.
“Part of the reason why FC Abuja was formed was to create a platform where youths can come and display their talent through football. The aim is to discourage people from indulging in crime.
“Our wish is to see the NNL board investigate this matter for things to be in order.
“So, if the league decides to put things in order, then, we will go back to our management and know the next step to follow. We can’t take decisions on our own because the management ordered our withdrawal.
“If we did not withdraw, what it means is that the agency is in support of corruption; that means we are not fighting corruption,” Mr. Adams added.
Five clubs: FC Abuja, Plateau United, Adamawa United, Mighty Jets FC of Jos and TEAP FC, were in attendance at the two-day meeting.