Immediate past President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) Emeka Onyeama embezzled at least ₦53m and $8,000 and could face criminal proceedings according to Elbuba Sadiq, who chaired the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee of the
The full extent of Mr. Onyeama’s misuse of the Federation’s funds was discovered in the course of investigations into his stewardship of the NCF which was precipitated by petitions filed by two unnamed former General Managers of the NCF who alleged that the former president criminally diverted funds meant for the NCF and failed to keep any records of his financial dealings on behalf of the Federation in contravention of laid down procedures.
With such serious allegations levelled against Onyeama, Mr. Sadiq told busybuddiesng.com that the former president was twice invited to defend himself before the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee but failed to honour the invitation on each occasion or even respond by writing despite confirming receipt of the Committee’s invitations which were delivered to him via courier and by hand.
Following the report of the Ethics and Disciplinary which held the petitions against him to be credible, Mr. Onyeama was suspended indefinitely from all Cricket related activity by the Full Council of the NCF at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in December held in Abuja.
While the report of the AGM states that Mr. Onyeama was suspended for “gross misconduct and financial misappropriation”, Mr Sadiq who sits on the board of the NCF as the North East representative revealed exclusively to busybuddiesng.com the full extent of Mr. Onyeama’s wrongdoings as unearthed by the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee.
Mr Sadiq pointed to two verified instances of financial misappropriation committed by the former president including the diversion of tens of millions of funds meant for the running of the NCF which had been sent by the International Cricket Council (ICC) who are the major financial backers of the NCF.
“During the last three months of [Emeka Onyeama’s] tenure, the International Cricket Council sent about fifty-three million naira to the Federation because it is the largest sponsor of cricket in Nigeria. There were a lot of things that were supposed to be handled with that amount. He did not pay the debt, he did not pay the players and then at the end of the day, the Cricket Federation owed airline agencies debts amounting to six or seven million naira. That amount sent to the Federation would have offset most of those debts and including paying staff and most of the team that was not done.
But where did the money go, there is no document to show but we know that money was collected. How come the federation is still indebted?
“There was a veteran who sponsored the Nigerian team and doled out about eight thousand dollars to Emeka directly, the board and the council never heard about that amount and what happened to that amount because it was not taken into the account of the federation. Personally, he kept it within himself and that was the end. That we know,” Mr Sadiq told busybuddiesng.com.
Mr Sadiq said his committee unearthed numerous instances of malfeasance against the former president but a lack of proper record keeping meant they could not be satisfactorily proven the committee, therefore, had to stick with cases where the proof of wrongdoing was clear.
“There are so many issues but there are no documents to make us say [Onyeama] is directly involved or not but that which we know he is directly involved was what we presented to the board then the board presented it to the council so unanimously the council decided to suspend him till he’s able to bring himself forward [to defend himself].”
Having established what amounts to criminal wrongdoing on the part Mr. Onyeama and in light of the former president’s refusal to appear before the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee, the next logical step should be instituting criminal proceedings against Mr. Onyeama. Mr. Sadiq however, says that the NCF could only handle the case “based on Cricket values as a Cricket family” because “any indictment or criminal matter is beyond our scope” as that would be the premise of the Ministry of Sports. He did add however that the “National Sports Commission is looking into the matter” and that “any individual who will wish that it will be taken further can do so”.
The current President of the NCF, Professor Yahaya Ukwenya however confirmed to busybuddiesng.com that he has been mandated by the Full Council of the NCF to send a full report of the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee’s findings against Mr. Emeka Onyeama “in the shortest possible time” to the Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung for further action.
It is expected that Dalung who has shown rigorous interest in sanitising the financial dealings of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would attend to this case with similar vigour when he is presented with the report.