Coming quickly on the heels of the news published online which denied the alleged embezzlement of the $2.2m dollars paid to former NBBF president Tijani Umar, by Econet for the botched Kwese Nigeria Male Basketball League, a group of journalists, stakeholders and concerned sports enthusiasts under the aegis of Friends of Nigeria Sports (FNS), in a press release have reacted to what it termed miscalculated attempt to deny and mislead the public.
In the release countering the refutal of alleged embezzlement of the Kwese $2.2 m dollars, Asiwaju Akeem Busari, spokesperson for FNS, demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari launch a full blown investigation into the matter, in line with the government’s avowed zero-tolerance for corruption.
“Earlier this week a denial was published online by some foot soldiers of Tijani Umar, describing the allegation of embezzlement of the Kwese funds as fake news. We’re not surprised. That was a desperate attempt to deny an obvious crime against basketball and the people of Nigeria,” Busari remarked.
“As genuinely concerned Nigerians, we want Nigerians and particularly, the presidency to ask these pertinent questions from Tijani Umar and his past NBBF board, which NBBF account was the Kwese money paid into?
“Tijani Umar should explain why he did not hand over the funds to the new board that succeeded him? We understand that if the money was paid into a private account, it is crime with jail term consequences.
” If not ,then he should explain why did he not return the money to Kwesse since not up to half of the Kwese league was played before they took the case to court that stopped the new board from holding the league for over 3 years.
“We demand that he also explain why did they go for the subsequent installments when they knew that they were not the legitimate board. Yet, they failed to declear the amounts to the new board. We understand too, that they still did not pay the money into any of the accounts operated by NBBF for transparency and this is blatant case of fraud,” he added.
Asiwaju Busari, recalled how Tijani Umar boasted on a national television that he refused to pay the Kwesse money into the NBBF account to prevent former sports minister Dalung and the ministry officials from calling for the money to be shared.
FNS emphatically demanded that Nigerians and the government should ask Tijani Umar to provide documents as it concerns the whereabout of these huge funds collected on behalf of NBBF and was never declared or retired.
“Until he respond to these demands publicly, Tijani Umar, who is the State House Permanently Secretary, cannot be exonerated from this financial scandal and crime.
“The crimes are enough to attract immediate dismissal from service and jail term. We also knew that Tijani Umar is a federal civil servant who has stayed beyond stipulated service years and should have retired long time ago,” he concluded.