By Albert Akota
The former chairman of Gombe State Football Association, Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe, has again opened up on match fixing scandal involving a team from Gombe State, Bubayero FC in 2013 Division 3 play-off of the nationwide league and exonerated himself of any involvement in the ‘scandalous score-line’.
He attributed the latest move by some certain individuals to link him with the ‘scandalous match fixing’ nine year after the NFF investigative committee found culprits found guilty and banned them for life, as calculated attempt to smear his image.
The renown sports critics however challenge anybody with fresh fact and prove of his involvement in the scandalous match fixing to come out public and prove his case, saying he is not scare of anything as the facts of none his involvement in the Bubayero 67 goals scandal are there for everyone to verify.
“I’m surprise that whenever I raised issue about people instead of them to defend themselves or say their own side of the story, they would be digging stories that are neither here nor there, or don’t have any strength to stand the test of time.
‘On issue of the scandalous and embarrassing match fixing incident where a team from Gombe State, Bubayero conceded 67 goals against Police Machine and Plateau United Feeders were 79-0 victory over Akurba FC from Nasarawa.
That particular match was play in Bauchi and four teams were involved. But only one would qualify to play in the Nationwide League and I was told that goal difference will be used to determine who qualifies.
“My team, Bubayaro FC.
I made it clear right from day one that I did not form the club for competition, not to play in the league because it is going to be a waste of time.
I formed the club for developmental purposes. That faithful week when the incident happened, I was in Lagos and I read on social media that my own team was in Bauchi to participate in the playoff with Police Machine. So, I immediate called the secretary of the club and asked him how did they got to Bauchi and under who permission, he said the chairman of Gombe State Sports Commission was the one that gave them money to travel to Bauchi and ask him how, or under what circumstances did the chairman gave you money to travel for the match?
“I immediately instructed him to enter the next bus with team and return back to Gombe. But against my wish, he refused to come back to Gombe. I then sent the coordinator of the club from Gombe who was also LMC match commissioner, Ibrahim, to go to Bauchi in the morning before they start the match and return with the club back to Gombe.
Unfortunately, they refused to heed to my advice. In the evening I read that they conceded 67 goals. I immediately disbanded the club.
“After disbanding the club, I wrote a letter to the General Secretary of NFF, informing him about the disbandment of the club following that embarrassing and shameful act by the team and officials.
The NFF acknowledged my letter and I copied CAF and FIFA because two days after, the news was all over the world. I also spoke to a BBC reporter who called me to ask why I took such prompt and bold action to disband the team after investing so much in the club.
I told him that I don’t support match fixing and any act that would damage the game of football.
He thanked me and appreciated my position. Someone from FIFA also called me after receiving my letter to thank me for my courage.
“The NFF set up a committee under the chairmanship of Chief Mike Umeh and the secretary was Dr Muhammed Sanusi who is now General Secretary of NFF but he was head of competitions then.
There were other members of the committee to investigate and try those involved in the scandalous match fixing.
The match officials, the players of the two teams and their officials, all appeared before the panel and they were found guilty of match fixing offenses. Some of them were banned for life while others were banned for 10 years.
“Those proactive actions that I took exonerated me. The committee never invite me nor tried me because God knows that I know nothing about it. I didn’t even stop at that since the team that scored my team 67 goal happened to be the Police team, I petitioned the Inspector General of Policy, reporting he should investigate what happened and jailed whoever needs to be jailed for the offence.
“If the NFF could not find me guilty, the Police did not find me guilty, I was not in Bauchi, I didn’t speak to anybody about the match apart from the fact that I asked my team not to participate in the playoffs and go back to Gombe.
Some people are today, nine years later, trying by force to mention my name and how my team was involved in match fixing. I was not banned but if they want to retry the case, it is their own problem, I don’t care because the facts are there.
“The report of the committee is there, Dr Sanusi is alive, Mike Umeh is alive, other members of the panel who investigated the matter are also alive.
The IGP who I wrote the petition to investigate the matter is still alive, the documents and the letters I wrote to NFF, CAF and FIFA are all there for anyone to verify.
“I challenge anybody to come out to show how I was involved in that match fixing scandal. I can never do that. But those who are involved in match fixing in Nigeria we know them. Let them continue talking, one day we’ll expose them.
The struggle to liberate Nigeria football administration and management from corrupt elements has started. For 15-year I have ion this I will not stop. If you have anything against me bring up and I have my defense, be ready to come up with your own defense.” Gara Stated.