At the time of growing insecurity across Nigeria, the country’s secret service DSS appears to still find time to summon those who have petitioned against the unbridled corruption at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for a meeting on “lingering NFF crisis”.
The NFF whistleblowers are NFF director of protocol Tunde Aderibigbe; Harrison Jalla, president National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANF) and former NFF technical director James Peters.
The DSS slated the meeting in Abuja for today.
One of the petitioners, Jalla, told the New Telegraph he will not be available for the meeting as he received his invitation late.
“I got the letter this morning (Tuesday) for me to attend a meeting scheduled for Wednesday. I stay in Lagos and I think the time frame is too short for me to attend. I have informed my lawyer to write the DSS to reschedule another day for me to attend the meeting,” he explained.
“Honestly, I don’t know why the DSS would invite us over football matters because I think anti-graft agencies are on this issue and even the court has waded in.
“However, as law-abiding citizens, we would honour the invitation. I will go for the meeting at a date my lawyer agrees with the DSS.”
“There is no crisis in NFF,” another official maintained.
“The situation is simply that those who have been accused of corruption cannot afford to face trial because they have a very, very bad case.
“So, they have been doing everything possible to shoot down these allegations.
“This is only the latest ploy they have embarked on to stay out of jail.”
Observers also allege that the DSS has not been a fair arbiter in respect of NFF matters amid wide-spread allegations that top NFF officials imposed Abba Bichi, the son of the agency’s director general, on the final squad to last year’s FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil.
Only last month, the whistleblowers revealed they feared for their lives because they have exposed the rut at the football federation running over 25 billion Naira over the last five years.
They have also been variously hounded by threats of court cases which seek hefty defamation claims by accused officials with NFF 2nd vice-president Shehu Dikko securing an injunction to stop further broadcast of the corruption allegations against them on a popular Human Rights Radio Abuja programme.
The accused NFF officials are currently being investigated by the country’s anti-corruption agencies, ICPC and EFCC.