By Amaechi Agbo
Facts have emerged on how the newly formed Nigeria National League Club Owners and Managers Association, NALCOMA officials colluded among themselves to defraud some clubs in the second tier of the Nigeria league a combined sum of N87.5 million.
The money, according to investigation, was realised from the sale of seven slots created by the NNL to bring the number of clubs playing in the two zones at par of 20 clubs each. A slot was sold at N12.5 million.
It was further gathered that the cabals in NALCOMA in order to ensure that the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the NNL, Lawrence Katkan was side-lined in the criminal act, forged the COO’s signature and used it to sign the receipt issued to the clubs that bought the slots.
The association also violated the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, status which stated that a total of 32 clubs will play in the NNL by creating additional seven slots bringing the total number of club that featured in the just ended 2018 NNL season to 39.
A source who is among the petitioners that took NALCOMA/NNL to EFCC added that the COO was released after interrogation few days ago due to the fact that he was not away of the fraud and denied signing the said receipts for the payment.
“First of all, the NNL was meant to be played by 32 clubs. According to NFF status, NNL is a league under the federation which must be played by 32 clubs. The status was not changed but the cabals in the league created 7 slots and sold each for N12.5 million. A total of 39 clubs played the league last year. When you multiply N12.5 million by seven, that will give you the total sum of money that did not entre NNL account.
“Apart from that, EFCC is investigating them on the issue of forgery. The receipt Nigeria National League Club Owners and Managers, NALCOMA gave us was a forged receipt because the signature of NNL COO, Katkan was forged. The receipt Emmauel Ezeora and Olisah Onuchukwu issued to the clubs that paid for the slots was forged. They forged the signature of Lawrence Katken. It was on that basis that Lawrence was released after interrogation last week. He was not part of the fraudsters in the NNL, he knew nothing about it,” the source said.
But in a response to our enquiries, the Media Officer of the NNL, Amar Ignis said that NNL management of the league never created slots nor sold any to anybody adding that what happened in the last season was that the league was played by 38 clubs, 20 from Southern Conference and 18 in Northern Conference. This, he said, was due to the inability of the northern states to produce the remaining two clubs to makeup the conference.
Ignis added that NNL never collected money from any club in the name of selling slots but noted that all the clubs that played in league last season were duly registered.
The Nigeria National League Club Owners and Managers Association (NALCOMA) was formed in March 2016 with the with the purpose of fostering unity and ensuring smooth running of the league as well as “protect” their interests where needed.
In her inaugural sitting, the association unanimously elected Chairman of Kogi United FC, Abdul Sule as the chairman of a five-man board.
Other members of the five-man board include Emmanuel Ibah from Akwa Starlets as Vice Chairman, Emmanuel Zira (Adamawa United) as the Head of Media and Publicity, Kabiru Haliru Mazado (Shekarau Babes) as the Treasurer while Mr Layi Adesiyan (Crown FC) is the General Secretary of the association.
Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on 17 of January, 2019 invited NFF head of technical department, Ahmed Yusuf ‘Fresh’, Olisa Onuchukwu, Lawrence Katkan, Layi Adesiyan, Emmanuel Zira and Abdul Sule for questioning over missing money in the NNL coffers.