By Amos Aar
THE LOBI Stars Football Club, Makurdi has suspended Gabriel Ogwuche indefinitely without pay as team manager following a petition he wrote against the club’s Vice Chairman, Dominic Iorfa, alleging a number corrupt practices against him (Iorfa).
Iorfa, who announced Ogwuche’s suspension on Monday during a press briefing at McCarthy Stadium, Makurdi, also presented Mr Eugene Agagbe as the club’s new head coach preparatory for the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) 2023/2024 season, saying he is the first Benue indigene to be appointed to that position.
The vice chairman also disclosed that Ode Ogah, a former Captain of Lobi Stars, has been appointed as the club’s manager with Felix Kpilakaa as welfare officer.
Iorfa told journalists that Gabriel Ogwuche and 32 others had petitioned him to the Benue State Assets Recovery Committee set up by the state government to seize assets illegally acquired by corrupt public officeholders and also to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Iorfa, who described the petition as fictitious and malicious, therefore said the manager was suspended indefinitely for anti-club activities, adding that a committee was set up to look into the matter.
“I have been taken to EFCC and Assets Recovery Committee. There are so many allegations against me. Even now, I’m still in the EFCC”, Iorfa stated, adding that although he has not been invited by the anti-graft agency, his associate was invited to go and explain why he, Iorfa, has been spending Lobi Stars’ money “recklessly” even as he noted that “it’s not easy to spend government’s money especially when you have money that is given to you for something because you have to explain how you spend it”.
He continued: “but a group of persons who call themselves stakeholders went and reported me and my team manager believed them. He has been giving them fake information and all kind [sic] of information. He has formed a cabal who have been taking me everywhere; EFCC, Assets Recovery”.
The suspension letter which was read to journalists without specific date entitled “Suspension Notice”, states:
“I have been directed to convey the decision of Lobi Stars FC management to suspend you without pay with effect from the date above.
“This suspension is as a result of insubordination, your alleged involvement in protest, inciting violence and giving false information against the club.
“You hereby stand suspended from the club’s activities pending investigation, findings and report of a duly constituted committee”.
Asked why he suspended the manager at a time he petitioned him over allegations of corruption instead of defending himself first to avoid counter accusations, Iorfa maintained that the manager formed a cabal that was bent on giving out false information against Lobi Stars in order to destroy the club hence the decision to suspend him in order to pave the way for investigation into the allegations.
“I just want to let you know that he has been suspended indefinitely without pay and we have set up a 5-man committee to look into the allegations. He has been giving the club’s information out without a proper agenda”, he stressed.
Meanwhile Iorfa had made available to journalists copies of the alleged petition written against him, signed by the suspended Gabriel Ogwuche and 22 others. The petition, which is copied to Governor Hyacinth Alia, Deputy Governor Sam Ode and Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Aondona Dajoh, for necessary action
Addressed to the Chairman, Benue State Assets Recovery Committee, Makurdi the petition, entitled “Petition Against Dominic Iorfa on Financial Crimes Against Lobi Stars Football Club Makurdi”, reads:
“We the undersigned under the umbrella of Benue State Sports Stakeholders Forum hereby petition Mr Dominic lorfa the Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Lobi Stars Football Club for the following financial and other related offences:
“1. Dominic Iorfa was reappointed the Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the club on March 22, 2022 when the club staff had earned the salary for the month, he collected the statutory allocation of the club and diverted the entire money for personal use. Until today, the match [sic] 2022 salary has not been paid.
“2. Dominic Iorfa forged a board resolution in 2006, opened an account with HSBC London with his family members as directors of the club: 1. Dominic Iorfa; 2. Jennifer Iorfa; 3. Collins Iorfa; 4. Member Iorfa.
“He has been operating the account for the purpose of diverting club revenues for personal use. The same account was used to divert 500,000 Euro accrued from the sale of Taye Taiwo to Olympic Marseille France in 2006 and other revenues thereafter.
“4. He diverted 150,000 USD accrued to club from the sale of Tony Okpotu to a Libyan club for personal. [Sic]. The transaction is on FIFA Transfer Matching System TMS, that record all players transfers.
“5. He diverted the April, 2023 staff salary after duly received the club monthly allocation for that month.
“6. He sold two buses (32-seater players Coaster Bus and 14 seater crew Bus) belonging to the club without meeting approved procedure for sale of government properties. The coaster Bus is in a mechanic workshop undergoing repair in the hands of the) new owner.
“7. He without approval, sacked staff of the club who were duly employed by the board without replacement and has been diverting their salaries for personal use.
“8. He vandalized the artificial turf of Aper Aku Stadium and sold out to willing buyers and got the stadium unfit for matches. That singular action have [sic] caused the club to be playing their home matches away from home since last year.
“9. He is currently selling players of the club and receiving the proceeds ‘in his private accounts for personal use. Non of the transactions have [sic] reflected on the DTMS of the club.
“10. He has not paid some of the staff of the club for over 6 months but the government have [sic) made monies available for that purpose.
“11. He terminated medical retainership the club had with Kings Cross Hospital, refused to pay the outstanding bills and couldn’t appoint another medical facility, the players and staff of the club were on their own medically, an action that led to the medical crises of some staff that eventually claimed two lives.
“12. The Board of Lobi Stars approved One Million Five Hundred Thousand (N1, 500,000) for the medical of a Board member Mr Iornyagh Aguda, he diverted to personal use and only gave him One Hundred Thousand (N100, 000) only. The board member died eventually.
“13. He tyrannically dissolved a government established board of the club on grounds that they were APC members and have been operating as sole administrator.
“We write and conscientiously believe the allegations to be all through [sic] and urge you to carryout your independent investigations to confirm the allegations as contained herein.”
The signatories to the petition include; Gabriel Ogwuche; Terhide Adom; Terkimbir Tyowua; David Terngu; Coach Godwin Uwua; Grace Iorhe; Emmanuel Adeyi; Sunday Jonathan; Christian Terhemba; Tertsea Tse; Benjamin Shausu; Moses.Uvough; Coach. Andrew lornongo; Coach Emmanuel lorsar; Vincent Asough and ‘Dooshima Aguda.
Others include, Avalumun Peter; ‘Mike Azu; Coach Demian Dewua; Coach Terfa Awa; Anthony Shav; Mac Imenger; Orduen Dura; Hon Agbo kpile; Paul lorlaha; Saater Akem; Peter Aguda; Tyover AKkaazer; Peter Akaazua; Gilbert Terhemba; Agba Sylvanus; Agber Akya; Tyotsea Iorver, and Paul Tion”.