Former president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi has upheld his innocence in the corruption charges leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) which has stayed behind in a Federal High Court in Abuja for the past five years.
Abdulllahi was impeached in 2010 and has since being prosecuted by the anti-graft agency for
offences bordering on conspiracy and breach of due process which is in contravention of the public procurement act over purchase of two buses.
The proprietor of FOSLA Academy expressed fulfillment in his success during his days in office and boasted his leadership record remains unsurpassed by his successors as there was all-round success and no grumbles from any quarters.
The former Director of Sports FCT decried the illegal process in which his board was impeached without top officials and the hurriedly convened NFF congress with current NFF president Amaju Pinnick endorsing the impeachment plot.
“In our strict compliance with our vision and mission statements and campaign promises that we took up the challenge to restore the glory of the sector, despite inadequate funding. Indeed, we had inherited a debt of over N300 million, highly demoralized national team and a football system that had no capacity to meet the high expectation of the nation,” Abdullahi wrote in an open letter to Nigerians.
“We were however particularly encouraged by government’s endorsement of the rule of law, due process and fight against corruption as the new policies for our excellent take off.
“Conscious of above laudable support, and in order not to let our country down, we within the first year in office, negotiated and succeeded in settling substantial part of the inherited debt of about N300m.
“We also settled several debilitating lingering court cases and most importantly restored the glory of Nigeria Football as the new Super Eagles were elevated to the 9th best position on Fifa ranking. A feat only second to the 1994 ranking, where we were rated 5th best in the world, he continued.
“That was not all, we satisfactorily partnered with the Federal Government as our main sponsors, state governments and corporate sponsors such as Adidas, AIT, Afribank, Guiness, GLO, Tom Tom, Peak Milk, IGI as well as Caf and FIFA to ensure the delivery of our services within available resources.
“However, in realizing the magnitude of our responsibilities and the inadequate resources, viz a viz the NFF congress approved Budget being more than twice Government approved budget i.e. for 4 consecutive years, we consequently and always resort to internal borrowing as the best option to augment our lean resources.
“It must, be noted that, but for such a measure for instance where I as the President had to source about N40 million Naira to settle players’ allowances during the 2007 U-17 Fifa Tournament in South Korea and CAN Africa Nation championship in Ghana 2008, it would have been difficult, if not impossible for the team to attain satisfying performances of winning the championship and losing gallantly to the host nation respectively.
“However, the illegal and hurriedly constituted Exco met on 03/07/2010, just four days after the authentic Exco’s meeting contrary to provision in NFF Statute Act 35(2) – ref. quotation: “The President of NFF shall convene the Executive committee meetings. If seven members request a meeting, the president shall convene a meeting within the three weeks, following the request. If the President does not convene the meeting in this time, one of the members who requested the meeting may do so.
“It was this decision to remove me and three others at this illegal meeting that was upheld by the said congress as indicated in its communiqué, endorsed by Mr. Amaju Pinnick, who has now emerged from the said Warri election as the NFF President.
Aside from his tenure’s achievements, he also highlighted challenges that bedeviled federation under his administration such as inheriting a debt of over N300 million while revealing the role then sports minister, Ibrahim Bio played to undermine his board’s efforts.
· The N900 million Federal Government grant for the World Cup was only released to NFF on 02/06/2010, just 4 days to the commencement of the Tournament, when the actual preparation/participation had started 2 months earlier.
·The NSC under him, had despite FIFA approval and accreditation unilaterally cancelled the paid reservation for Hampshire Hotel in South Africa which NFF paid for, as the Super Eagles base camp, and consequently refused to pay the agreed contractual fine.
·The Bio led NSC also went ahead in the absence of any NFF representative, but supported by Dr. Amos Adamu to visit FIFA President in South Africa just 2 days to our last group match against South Korea and with a letter, directed FIFA not to have any financial transaction with my NFF led Board and particularly not to remit the due participation fee of $8 million due to alleged financial misappropriation and maladministration. The consequent effect of this ill timed visit, obviously and naturally demoralized the players who were entitled to 25% of the participation fee.
·The letter from Ibrahim Bio led NSC withdrawing Nigeria from all organized FIFA tournaments was unpatriotically ill-timed and done out of malice and selfish interest and consequently the allegation leveled against us on the 06/07/2010 at the inauguration ceremony of the purported NFF new management committee was baseless and a clear manifestation of the determination of the sports authority to dishonestly use instrument of power to blackmail us and justify their illegal action of forcing us out of office.
“While I patiently and faithfully awaits God’s verdict, I wish to state clearly with heavy hearts that the humiliation, intimidation and ungodly acts, we have been subjected to, over the last four and a half years, was because we exhibited the highest level of commitment and dedication to service of humanity in accordance to God’s set standard which was clearly evidenced in our inheritance of an empty account and a debt of over N300 million when we assumed office in August, 2006 and subsequently operated within four years despite inadequate resources to deliver our campaign promises and finally left a total sum of approximately two billion and eight hundred million Naira only (N2.8 Billion) in the various accounts of NFF at the point of our illegal impeachment,” he concluded.