Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Sports Administrator Exposes Fraud in Ministry of Sports, Akwa United FC


More facts have emerged on the recent face off between the former Chairman of Akwa United Football Club, Akparawa Nse Ubeh, ex players and the Ministry of Youth and Sports over the list of the players that are supposed to benefit from Governor Udom Emmanuel’s #2 million largesse and a house.

It could be recalled that the Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel had publicly pronounced at a reception held for the players a rewards of #2 million and a house to each of Akwa United players, while the officials were promised #3 million each and a house after the team won the 2015 FA Cup. The Governor made this promise when he hosted the victorious team at the Banquet Hall of the Akwa Ibom State Governor’s office.

A promise he redeemed a couple of months ago. But rather than this fulfilled promise being a source of joy to the supposed beneficiaries, it has generated a lot of concerns both from the fans and football administrators in the State.

It could be recalled that THE INK Portal had last week reported that 10 names out of the 34 names of the players that made up the original list that was earlier submitted by the former Chairman of the club, Akwa United were omitted during the presentation of the keys to the houses. The 10 players having gotten the information that they were no longer part of the beneficiaries as a result of being schemed out protested last Monday.

The protesting players while expressing their anger on why they were not part of the Governor’s largesse alleged that the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the new management of the club are responsible for the omission of their names from the list. They queried why they had to suffer and play for the club to achieve victory only for them to be ignored at the time of sharing the largesse. The players noted that it is unacceptable and promised to do everything they can to ensure that they get their due.

The protest generated a lot of crisis and controversies as well as sympathy. During a chat with journalists, the former Chairman of Akwa United, Akparawa Nse Ubeh described the development as a sad one, saying that Governor Udom Emmanuel magnanimously made an open pronouncement of 34 houses and #2 million naira each to all the 34 players that were part of the 2015 season.

He said when the Governor made the pronouncement; he wasn’t ignorant of the fact that there were supporting staff in the club, arguing that the Ministry of Youth and Sports has no right to have deprived the 10 players of their houses in the name of giving them to the supporting staff of the club.

Ubeh noted that though some of the affected players were recruited in the mid season which the registration of players for the FA Cup had already closed; their assistance and contributions helped the club in the season which cannot be ignored, insisting that they are qualified to benefit from Governor’s largesse.

According to him, “when the Governor asked how many players we have in the team, I said 34 players. And these 34 players were presented to the Governor before we left to Lagos for the finals. The Governor saw them physically in the Government House in Uyo. The Governor was not interested whether all of them were registered for the FA Cup or not, he said since they were part of the team everybody should benefit. It would have been so bad for the Governor to make the pronouncement and I excluded those players who joined me as a family to work hard to achieve that victory.”

The former Chairman, who presented the list of the beneficiaries that he submitted to the Ministry to journalists, challenged the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the new management of Akwa United to also make their list public. He further listed some of the six officials whose names were on the list to include: Team Manager-Emmanuel Udoh, Secretary-Mathew Peter, Zachary Baraje-Technical Adviser, Chief Coach-Moses Effiong and Coach-Itoro Akpan as well as himself.

In his words, “My brother the truth is that they gave those houses to non beneficiaries so that they can buy back the houses from them at no cost. Why did they give photocopied papers of the houses to the players initially? It is because they brought in names of non beneficiaries into the list so that they will buy them back at a very cheap price. You collected original papers from the Ministry of Housing and then you forced those players to sign and write original papers collected by me. 

It may interest you to know that why a player like Femi Kayode left the club is because he was asked to sign photocopy of the paper instead of the original and he asked why and he was marked and sacked from the team. Let them bring out their list and defend it. They are claiming to be right, even the driver that drove the team in that season, Mr. Imo Bassey was sacked without collecting any money. No matter what they say, all I know is that as at the time the victory came, we had 34 players as at then in team, and I took the complete number to the Governor.”

The former Chairman further alleged that since the truth began to unfold, he has been receiving a lot of threat massages, saying that he will always stand by the truth no matter the circumstances. “Even if they kill me today, I will continue to say that it is wrong for those players to be short-changed. They suffered for the team. I carried those players to Lagos. They trained in the last training, before the Technical Adviser, Zachary Baraje picked out his best 11 players for the finals.”

Disclosing further on the matter, Akparawa Nse Ubeh said “That day of the reception in the morning, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Sir Monday Uko called me and said I should prepare a list of players and officials and that I should take the list to the then Commissioner for Housing, Prince Enobong Uwah. When I got to the Housing Ministry, Enobong Uwah said the number of houses the Governor had approved is only 40, and that it should be 34 players and 6 officials. On the evening same day at the reception the Governor confirmed it by making the pronouncement.” He added.

He said if by any way the Ministry of Youth and Sports wants to give the houses to the supporting staff of the team, the only way would have been for the Commissioner to approach the Governor and make a case for them, rather that short-changing the players who had suffered for the team even as he stressed that he will still stand by his position.

While thanking the Ministry of Housing for releasing the houses, Ubeh predicted that when the money would be released, the same situation may repeat itself. He described the development as a sad one, adding that some people are trying to bring down the name of Governor Udom Emmanuel and his administration. He used the opportunity to appeal to the Governor to intervene in the matter.

Reacting, the Chairman of Akwa United FC, Paul Bassey said only 24 players were registered for the 2015 FA Cup. Bassey, who appeared on planet fm sports show last Thursday to defend his action as well as that of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, described the protest of the ex players as a big distraction to the team.

He faulted Nse Ubeh for submitting 34 names instead of 24 registered players for the FA Cup to the Governor. In his words, “The 10 names that were on the list were not supposed to be. Ordinarily, I would have taken it as a fraud, but let me say it was ignorant.”

Continuing, Paul Bassey said that there is no way the houses would be given to all the 34 players without other supporting staff of the club, saying that the 24 players that were registered for the competition have been given their houses. 

He said, “A lot of mistakes were made. We are working on official documents. Nse Ubeh gave wrong information to the Governor and the Governor acted on that. The Team manager, driver, camp commandant among others were all excluded from the list. I don’t want to believe that it was a fraud but I want to believe it was ignorant.” He insisted.

However, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Sir Monday Uko while explaining the issue to journalists last week, disassociated himself from the matter, saying he has no hands in the distribution of the houses and that he should not be dragged into the crisis.

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