Sani Lulu, others deny fixing Nigeria’s qualification for 2010 World Cup

Some cases of match-fixing in Nigeria and by Nigerians have remained unsolved.

Officials that managed Nigerian football prior to 2010 World Cup have denied allegations by a Singaporean match fixer, Wilson Perumal, that Nigeria’s qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was fixed.

Mr. Perumal, in an article published by the Guardian UK on April 28, had stated that he helped Nigeria fix matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

He claimed he had a meeting with a Nigerian football official in which he promised to help Nigeria qualify for the World Cup in return for free rein in organising three warm-up matches and a cut of the money FIFA provides for hosting a training camp during the tournament.

Perumal also claimed to have influenced three players on his payroll to help Nigeria to victory in one of their qualifiers.

He also claimed to have promised the Mozambique FA a $100,000 bonus if they were able to hold Tunisia to a draw and so stop Tunisia leapfrogging Nigeria and seizing automatic qualification.

Mozambique secured an unlikely 1-0 victory.

“My plan had worked and I was the unsung hero of Nigeria’s qualification to the final rounds of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Ferrying Nigeria and Honduras to the World Cup was a personal achievement. I got two teams to qualify for the World Cup but I could not tell anyone,” the notorious match fixer said.

The NFF, in a statement by its spokesperson, Ademola Olajire, promptly refuted Mr. Perumal’s claim.

“We have gone through the fictitious write-up by the Singaporean (in the UK Guardian), who was fittingly convicted for his nefarious activities and has spent time in jail. The NFF will only say at this moment that there is no truth to the claim and that we had nothing to do with Perumal all through the Super Eagles’ qualifying series for 2010 FIFA World Cup,” Mr. Olajire quoted the NFF scribe, Musa Amadu, as saying.

The Federation also threatened to sue the Singaporean.

Mr. Amadu and the current managers of Nigerian football were, however, not in office during the period of the alleged match fixing. Although world football body, FIFA, has said it would investigate the claim, the Nigerian football handlers then have said it is false.

The officials
At the time of the alleged match-fixing, the head of Nigerian football, NFF, was Sani Lulu.

Bolaji Ojo-Oba was the secretary-general, Amodu Shuaibu was the head coach of the Super Eagles while Taiwo Ogunjobi was the technical committee chairman of the NFF.

In a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Lulu denied knowing Mr. Perumal.

“I don’t know the man and I have never heard of the name. If they accuse me, I will take anybody to court.

“I was the number one man in the NFF and as at that time, no one could do anything without me,” Mr. Lulu noted.
He challenged the Nigerian media to investigate Mr. Perumal’s claim.

“That Sani Lulu is not there now doesn’t mean there’s no continuity. Find out from the NFF. The country is Nigeria; go and find out what did the NFF do with this man. Did the NFF know the man?” Mr. Lulu, who is being prosecuted by the EFCC for corruption while in office, said.

He suggested that the allegation was a ploy to truncate his plan to contest to be the president of the NFF in July.

“I have done nothing. The time that I was taken to the court and when I was kidnapped, nobody brought up this matter. But now when people are saying and thinking I may contest in the next elections they are bringing out these lies. I don’t get disturbed by anything. It’s only God that puts me through all I do,” Mr. Lulu said.

Mr. Ojo-Oba, who is now a Director at the Nigeria Sports Commission, NSC, failed to comment on the allegation. He didn’t take his calls, ignored text messages and was not available in his office when PREMIUM TIMES visited.

The Eagles coach at the time of the alleged match fixing, Amodu Shuaibu, who now works as a technical adviser for the football federation, was not at the NFF secretariat when PREMIUM TIMES visited. He could not be reached on the telephone numbers provided for him.

Also, Mr. Ogunjobi, who has been banned by the NFF from football activities, declined to comment when he was contacted by this newspaper.

“I don’t have anything to say to you. In short, no comment,” Mr. Ogunjobi said.

Match-fixing allegations
There have been several allegations of match fixing in the Nigerian league with many of the allegations unresolved.

In 2006, Akwa United scored 13 goals against Calabar Rovers in a bid to help Bussdor FC move to the Premiership. Despite allegations the match was fixed, no one was found culpable or punished.

In 2011, there was an allegation of match-fixing in a Premier League between Sunshine Stars of Akure and Dolphins FC of Port Harcourt.

Prior to the match, the centre referee was sighted being chauffeured around Akure in the official car of the Mike Idoko-led Sunshine Stars. A video was provided as evidence. The NFF’s Order and Disciplinary committee slammed a N20 million fine on Sunshine Stars and N10 million on Dolphins Coach, Stanley Eguma. The matter was taken to the Appeal Committee of the NFF, which resolved it privately.

In 2013, in the Amateur League, Plateau United Feeders scored 79 goals against Akurba FC. The same year, the Police Machine FC scored 67 goals against Babayaro FC. The NFF only pronounced a life ban on the clubs without identifying the culprits behind the apparent match-fixing for due punishment.

Some Nigerian players have also been accused of match fixing in Europe.

In 2013, a Nigerian international, Sam Sodje, was arrested and tried in a court for match fixing in London.

Another Nigerian player, Hakeem Adelakun, a former player of Conference South Club Whitehawk in the U.K., was accused of match fixing in 2013 and has since been sacked by the club.

Nigerian striker, Emmanuel Emenike, was also accused of mach fixing alongside his Turkish club, Fenerbahce. He was, however, cleared by a court in Istanbul, while the club was found guilty and punished.

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