By Chukwuemeka Opara
The Ebonyi State Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, has set-up a 5-man committee to probe the emergence of Sen. Obinna Ogba, representing Ebonyi Central, and other contestants for the state Football Association (FA) elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the June 1 election, has been shrouded in controversy over the alleged monopolisation of the process by Ogba, who is the incumbent chairman and the Senate Committee Chairman on Sports.
Ogba according to sports ministry sources, has occupied the seat for more than 10 years.
Mr Charlse Akpuenika, the Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, who inaugurated the committee, expressed dismay that he and other state’s sports stakeholders were not aware of the processes which led to the emergence of delegates and other activities concerning the election.
“The committee will be headed by the ministry’s new Permanent Secretary, Mr Jonathan Okoronkwo and is empowered to invite Ogba and other contestants to the next meeting of sports stakeholders in the state.
“The committee should review and brief the stakeholders, the processes used in electing delegates who will vote in the elections as none of the stakeholders is aware of the process.
“You must conclude this assignment within 48 hours and reconvene a meeting of the stakeholders where all the contestants and delegates should be present.
“None of the contestants is above the state ministry and anyone who wants to prove so will be told that no one is above the ministry,” he said.
He said that the ministry will seek a postponement of the election from the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) if all contending issues were not settled, adding that the state FA is not a one-man affair.
Desmond Ome, Secretary of the state FA, said that the holding of the state FA congress at the Salt Lake Hotel, owned by Ogba was not to manipulate the process as he was being accused-of.
“The congress was held at Ogba’s hotel due to security concerns, but I have insisted that the election be held at a neutral venue.
“I did not alter or manipulate any delegate list as the congress is a structure existing in the state since 2015.
“I am not being influenced by anybody and if the government which is my employer feels that I am the problem, it should recommend my withdrawal from the entire process,” he said.
Emmanuel Utobo, Ebonyi Director of Sports noted that no information concerning the election was made available to the Sports Council or relevant stakeholders.
Hillary Obiesie, the State Sports Council Secretary faulted the documents presented by the FA secretary over the congress and election of delegates, noting that they did not emanate from the NFF.
“He should inform us on the processes which led to the emergence of the delegates as we all know that it was manipulated and did not follow laid down rules,” he said.
Ogba in his reaction when contacted by NAN, said that he will address the issue on his return to the state.
“I will brief journalists on the issue on my return to state as it is important to make necessary clarifications.