The National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers (NANPF) has petitioned the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) over the manner in which the N240m league image right money recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from Total Promotions was disbursed.
NANPF which stated that it is the official Nigeria players Union affiliated to the Nigeria Football Federation, in a letter dated 12th January, 2017, as signed by its General Secretary, Austin Popo, and addressed to the NFF and TUC presidents is calling for an investigation of the disbursement of the fund to determine the authenticity and genuineness of the beneficiaries, a reversal of monies disbursed to any illegal persons or institutions and an action to compel the beneficiary league clubs to channel the funds to pay the players and coaches who have been owed salaries and other entitlements during the period the image rights income accrued.
The union revealed that prior to the disbursement of the fund to the clubs and and about ten percent of it to the initial complainant it had informed the EFCC through a letter dated 5th of September 2016 addressed to the Chairman and Director of Operations requesting for equitable disbursement of the fund especially paying particular attention to the need for the clubs to use their share to pay off their indebtedness to players and coaches with regards to the various decisions of the NFF Players Status and Arbitration Committee.
According to the union, it’s letter to the EFCC “specifically requested the anti-graft Commission to ensure that, at least, fifty percent of the debts owed the affected players and coaches are paid with the recovered sum” and pay ten percent of the said sum to NANPF as the recognized Player’s Union for furtherance of the rights and protection of players’ interest while the balance is disbursed to the clubs.
Expressing disappointment that the EFCC did not respond to the letter, the union said it is surprised that instead, the EFCC “went ahead to supervise the disbursement of the fund without carrying out due diligence of authenticating the genuineness and status of all the beneficiaries, including the originating complainant who collected the sum of N24,000,000 (twenty four million Naira) which is ten percent of the amount recovered in accordance with the schedule given to the EFCC by the Clubs Owners Association.”
The union said its further discussions with the leadership of the clubs owners association revealed that the agreement entered into with the NPL in the sharing formula for sponsorship monies did not make provisions for the players union.
The union said having conceded to the submission of the clubs owners association, it insisted that the affected clubs should pay debts owed players and coaches with the recovered fund but the leadership of the club owners association asked it to make direct contact with the affected clubs which it did through a letter dated 25 November, 2016, including one on one discussions with some of the club chairmen.
“Promises were made by the chairmen to pay but they never did that as soon they got their allocation. Our investigation revealed that some past chairmen and officials of the NPL where also paid monies for services and expenses rendered the league body while the players and coaches who produced the fund based on their collective image rights were never considered in spite of numerous appeal to the Club Owners Association.
In view of these, the union wants the Nigeria Football Federation and the Trade Union Congress to “investigate the disbursement of the fund to determine the authenticity and genuineness of the beneficiaries, compel a reversal of monies disbursed to any illegal persons or institutions, compel the club owners association and the concerned clubs to pay the affected players and coaches with monies disbursed to them, prevail on the EFCC and the Club Owners Association to pay a further expected balance of N100,000,000 (One Hundred Million Naira ) recovered from Total Promotion Ltd to the affected players and coaches.
The union warned that “failure to address these issues in the shortest possible time will leave it with no other choice but to seek redress outside of Football to get justice for the affected players and coaches.”