Author: Tunde Eludini
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arrested Davidson Owumi, Chairman of the Nigeria Premier League board, over allegations of corrupt practices while he was in charge at Rangers International Football Club, Enugu.
Owumi was picked up from the NPL’s board meeting in Abuja and will be taken to Enugu today to respond to a petition filed by Ray Nnaji, a former member of the board of the NPL.
Femi Babafemi, Public Relations Officer of the EFFC, said the inability to get a flight to Enugu led to the delay in taking Owumi there yesterday.
“I can confirm that he was arrested and it is for cases of fraud and award of fictitious contract,” Babafemi said.
When asked if Owumi committed the alleged fraud as chairman of Premier League Club, Rangers International or as a member of the former NPL board headed by Oyuiki Obaseki, Babafemi said: “It cuts across board but more of Rangers because the case is being handled by our Enugu office”.
Initial efforts to get Owumi to comment on the matter were unsuccessful but the NPL Chairman was later quoted by SuperSports.com, a sports news website, to have said he is innocent of the allegations against him.
“I don’t have anything to hide. I am open to any probe. I have heard people say I used money from Enugu Rangers to build my house and I laugh at that because the records are there. Also, I can say I have not got any contract from government or anywhere,” he said.
Foster Chime, the Media Officer of Rangers, said he was surprised by the development noting that the arrest could not have been as a result of Owumi’s activities in Rangers.
“Rangers is owned and run by the Enugu State government and so any issue of misappropriation or foul play should be pointed out by them, which for now has not been done. Even Owumi has left the club for quite a while so I wonder why now,” he said.
However Babefemi said the commission need not wait for the Enugu Sate government before it acts.
According to him, once sufficient information is received on any corrupt practise, the EFFC can swing to action.
More in the net
Owumi’s current travail is the latest instalment in a short tenure pockmarked by controversy since being elected earlier this year.
He joins the list of football officials being investigated by the EFFC. Sani Lulu, former President of the Nigeria Football Federation along with former vice-president, Amanze Uchegbulam; Taiwo Ogunjobi, former head of the federation’s technical committee; and Bolaji Ojo-Oba, its former Secretary General are also answering charges of corruption and abuse of office while they were in charge of the Nigeria FA.
The EFCC has also waded into the cash-for-vote allegations brought against FIFA executive Amos Adamu by setting up a panel to investigate the matter.
The new NPL season is expected to kick off on Saturday after several postponements and it is not clear whether the latest development will have any impact on it.