Photo: Rivers Commissioner for Sports, Boma Iyaye (middle); Permanent Secretary, Sir Honour Sirawoo (3rd left); SWAN chairman in Rivers State, Udede Jim-Opiki (3rd right); Vice Chairman, Sarah David (2nd right); Secretary, Chukwudi Ejimofor (right); Treasurer, Solomon Wokoma (2nd left) and Financial Secretary, Barth Ndubuwah (left) when the new SWAN exco visited the commissioner.
Rivers State Government, owners of Rivers United Football Club has rejected the outcome of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Committee’s report that endorsed the decision of League Management Company (LMC) to place Enyimba ahead of the club in the final standing of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) table.
This is just as the government queried the recent trip of NFF’s president, Amaju Pinnick to Abia State last week Friday, only for the Football Committee to submit its position on Monday.
Rivers Commissioner for Sports, Boma Iyaye stated while receiving the newly elected executive of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Rivers chapter on a courtesy visit at his office in Port Harcourt.
Iyaye listed eight grounds of objections to the report of the NFF’s Football Committee, pointing out that “in the circumstances, we are constrained to express our deep reservations about certain half-truths, deliberate distortion of facts and obvious misinformation.”
On the Committee’s claim that the clubs were duly carried along and voted twice in the final decision to end the league and use the PPG system, he stated that “The truth is that Rivers United Football Club never objected to the PPG, and continues to support the PPG system as agreed by the majority of the Clubs. Our position has always been that, rather than use an inconclusive head-to-head to separate two teams tied on points, the rules guiding the operations of the NPFL states that ‘goal difference’ shall be the first option to be used in separating teams that are tied on the same points, followed by ‘higher goals scored’ and lastly, head-to-head. We are only against the selective application of the Rules.”
The sports commissioner argued that Rivers United has a genuine case based on facts but were only being denied their rights owing to attempts by some people to deliberately shortchange the club.
“This is a clear case of injustice and undue victimization. In light of this development, the Rivers State Government; sponsors of Rivers United Football Club, is compelled to seek the proper interpretation of the applicable rules, and a pronouncement on the propriety or otherwise of the actions and decisions of the LMC on the matter, from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). We are eager for justice and determined to protect Rivers people and its interest in line with the philosophy of our leader, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.”
He called on the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare to wade into the matter and ensure that justice is dispensed in a free and fair manner.
“The president of NFF, Amaju Pinnick and Shehu Dikko (LMC chairman) are taking football in Nigeria fifty (50) years behind. They should be called to order or Nigerian football will continue to dwindle,” he stressed.
The commissioner had earlier assured the newly elected SWAN executive led by Udede Jim-Opiki of support and cooperation in the discharge of their duties.