This Day (Lagos)

3 January 2013

Nigeria: Club Owners Blast Baribote Over Abdullahi Comments

The umbrella body for clubs in the Nigeria Premier League, Club Owners Association of Nigeria Wednesday berated former NPL board chairman, Victor Rumson Baribote for accusing the Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, as masterminding his sack.

Spokesman of the club owners who last week impeached Baribote from the NPL top job, Mr Mike Idoko, said in a statement Wednesday that the former Bayelsa United chairman's accusation of the minister lacked substance.

"The club owners have never done the bidding of anybody and will never do. We were fed up with the management style of the last board led by Baribote. We did what was right in line with the statutes of the NPL and the power given to clubs by FIFA," stressed Idoko, who further described the accusation as insulting to the minister and the club owners.

He insisted that the NPL under Baribote's leadership eroded all gains made over the years by his predecessors.

The statement from the club owners made it clear that Baribote "was never elected in the first place as no election took place."

"Baribote missed the point by saying the minister masterminded his removal. As managers of clubs we know what is good and best for us and we realised late that with the Baribote-led board, the Nigerian (premier) league is heading to the rocks. And for him to allege that the minister masterminded his removal is to say the least insulting to the honourable minister.

"The NPL under Baribote was never elected in the first place as no election took place when the court sacked (Davidson) Owumi. The Club Owners gave him the mandate believing he will bring relief to the comatose league. Title sponsorship became a problem and the clubs were made to bear the brunt of the lack of sponsorship," the statement from the club owners' spokesman read.

The club owners also warned that it will pull out of the present Interim Management Committee for the NPL should it show trait of underdevelopment.

"If the present board starts following in the footsteps of Baribote, we will have no choice than to pull out," Idoko, who is a member of the interim committee inaugurated by the Nigeria Football Federation last week, said on behalf of the club owners.

He however declined to comment on the purported court case instituted against him and 19 other club owners by Baribote, insisting he would only talk after the case had been settled in court.

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