Published: January 22, 2015
I HAVE DONE NOTHING TO WARRANT MY PROSECUTION, LULU CRIES OUTFormer NFF President Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi has once again maintained his innocence in the corruption charges leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) which has lingered for the past five years in a Federal High Court in Abuja.

Lulu in an open letter to Nigerians is demanding for immediate justice in the case.

According to him, “ 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.

“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. 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”.

 Continuing, the Omachi Atah Igala who outlined some of his achievements  in office to include:

Despite obvious challenges, we made great strides, to achieve and actualize our set targets as enumerated below: -

 For the first time since the creation of the Association in 1945, the secretariat was overhauled and restructured in line with the statutory provision, with the appointment of a Secretary General (SG), two Deputy SGs and four Assistant SGs, directly responsible to the NFF Board.

We created an enabling environment for youth participation in Age grade tournaments, starting from U-13 and consequently all the National teams for the first time in Nigeria and Africa qualified and participated in all the nine categories of FIFA organized World championship finals during this 4 years tenure.

This feat at that time was only achieved by Brazil in the World. Among such FIFA competitions were the U-17 tournament in Korea 2007 and Nigeria 2009, where we won Gold and Silver Medals respectively, the Under 20 male in Canada 2007, and Egypt 2009, the women (Falcons) World Cup in China 2007, the women and men Olympics in China 2008, where the men won the Silver Medal, ‘Beach Soccer World Cup in Brazil 2007, Paris 2008 and Dubai 2009’, the Under 17 female in Newzealand 2008, the Under 20 female in Chile 2008 and Germany 2010 where the female won Silver Medal and finally the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Through the FIFA goal project funds, the NFF technical centre was completed with the provision of an artificial Football pitch, while the existing Secretariat was fully rehabilitated and renovated including the installation of two 100KVA generating sets, to ensure constant power supply.

Also the final design for the proposed NFF Headquarters was completed and awaiting foundation laying ceremony with funding from FIFA goal project II and proposed partnership with M/S Julius Berger Nigeria Plc.

The transportation system was fully overhauled with provision of two Marco Polo Buses, a 32 seat coaster bus and a 16 seat mini bus, which are still the only buses in use after almost five years of our illegal removal from office.

-For the first time in the history of Nigeria Football, an annual grant of N18,500,000 (i.e. N500,000 to each state) was approved and released effective from 2009 to facilitate development of grassroot football.

-An aggressive marketing drive resulted to over 100% revenue increase as compared to previous sponsorship and.

-In our selfless determination to prosecute the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we raised over N300 million from FIFA and other corporate sponsors to execute our pre-tournament activities, until the remittance of Federal Government approved grant on 2nd June 2010, just four days to the commencement of the competition. These earlier funds were used within 2 months to the kick off on the following: - Hiring of an Aircraft, Purchase of FIFA match tickets, two weeks Team camping in London, four International friendly matches, payment of critical debts or miscellaneous to former Coach Berty Vogts and new Coach Lars Lagerback and payment of deposit for hotel accommodation in South Africa.

 I wish to reiterate here as I have consistently done in the past, that inspite of above landmark achievements, we experienced or encountered several glaring and unnecessary challenges that bedeviled the Federation as listed below: -

-We inherited colossal debt of over N300 million at the inception of our Board and subsequently experienced the hostile disposition of the NSC, particularly under Mr. Ibrahim Bio the then Sports Minister, who was envious of our autonomy under the new FIFA resolution. To our chagrin he walked tirelessly to undermine our board in carrying out its assignment in order to paint us black before Nigerians. These examples may suffice: -

·        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.

·  The unilateral directive of Patrick Ekeji the then DG, NSC on June, 2010, while we were already in South Africa for the World Cup, postponing the NFF election already scheduled for 26th August, 2010, was made contrary to the approvals by the NFF congress, FIFA and the earlier endorsement of the election timetable by the Hon. Minister of NSC at our inauguration ceremony in August 2006, was obviously ill-timed, particularly when the electoral committee’s deadline for submission of contestants forms had expired on 21st June, 2010 with me as the only unopposed Presidential candidate for the election scheduled for August, 2010.

My NFF led Board has been vindicated by the court’s ruling that the $236,000 was missing due to security negligence and therefore succeeding NFF Exco should inform Nigerians how the funds were recovered.

The Governor Rotimi Amaechi led Presidential Task Force was primarily established to raise funds and augment Late President Yar’Adua’s approval to increase Super Eagles wining bonus from $5,000 to $10,000 for their participation in African Nation tournament in Angola and World Cup in South Africa both taking place in 2010. Despite the over N1 billion realized, the PTF never remitted the appropriate funds, all because of pecuniary reasons.

Senator H. Lokpobiri who was the Senate committee chairman on sports also personally alleged at the public senate committee seating, that my NFF led Executive, mismanaged the sum of N2.16 Billion. The truth is that the total sum of approximately N2.8 Billion was left in the various accounts as at the time of my illegal impeachment as detailed below: -

a.    2010 World Cup FIFA participation fee was not remitted from FIFA due to I. Bio directive.     =        $8m or   N1,248,000,000

b.    2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup championship LOC marketing funds from FIFA was lodged in NFF/LOC dedicated account with First Bank                 =        $5.5m or   N858,000,000

c.    Funds available in FIFA account including FAP projects, FIFA goal project II, FIFA special remittance at 2010 World Cup                       =        $1.65m or N257,400,000

d.    NFF funds available in UBA and Afribank                                N430,000,000

                                                                                 Total               N2,793,400,000

In conclusion Lulu said” 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

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