AS PROMISED……..ANALYSIS AND FACTUAL REPORT OF EVENTS LEADING TO THE NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT IN COTONOU.
Never in the history of Nigerian basketball has our dear country been so grossly humiliated, shamed, embarrassed, and brought to ridicule. I am talking about the recent 3×3 FIBA tournament in Cotonou, where two different contingents, led by two different bodies, each claiming to be the legitimate representatives of the 180 million-strong Nigerian nation, clashed over who legitimately represents Nigeria in an international tournament. Oh the shame, the ridicule, the embarrassment!
Those of us who are fortunate to be international figures in world basketball, were forced to switch off our phones. Because we simply ran out of excuses and explanations to offer to all the various phone calls and texts which inundated us from all over the world, demanding to know why Nigeria had sunk so low in the management of its affairs. Perhaps more painful was the fact that even people who are not traditionally involved in sports, still felt piqued and disenchanted enough to complain about the shame which Nigerian basketball had brought to the image of our country, through the Cotonou debacle.
There are those who may try to downplay this Cotonou debacle as merely symptomatic of an internal crisis within Nigerian basketball. And there are some who may try to relegate it’s significance, by dismissing it as merely the aftermath of the recent contentious NBBF elections.There are still others who will ignore the fact that this recent confrontation has raised the stakes beyond the possibility of any amicable resolution, and will still be preaching a hard-to-sell ‘peace and reconciliation’. Please don’t listen to them….This is no longer a simple internal matter. This has become an international embarrassment to our country.The Cotonou debacle was an affront to the integrity and image of Nigeria and must be treated as such. The line has now been crossed. This can no longer be tolerated. This is no longer Tijjani Umar versus Musa Kida. This now has to be seen in the light of the Federal Government of Nigeria versus saboteurs of our country’s image and international goodwill.
As promised in my last post, I have done a thorough and detailed investigation and analysis of the matter, and have come up with a report of what truly transpired. My investigations led me to criss-cross the globe to FIBA, the NBBF, the Ministry, participants in the matter, etc. Please find below my unbiased presentation of the facts so that you may draw your own conclusions about who has culpability in this matter and what the grand plan behind all these events may be. This is a very long one, but everything you read here is the pure truth backed by hard evidence. And if anyone tells you otherwise, please demand for their own hard evidence too.
1) This particular FIBA 3×3 tournament has been in the pipeline since March/April this year, while the former NBBF Board was still in place. However, it did not progress beyond the stage of conceptualization, since there was some hitch finding a host for the qualifiers. It was initially slated for Cote D’Ivoire, who eventually declined to host. Then it was shifted to Togo, who also declined to host the qualifiers because they were eyeing the finals.
2) Ultimately, it was fixed to hold in Cotonou from the 8th to the 9th of July 2017. It is important to note that this final decision was reached by FIBA, and forwarded by way of circular on the 14th of June 2017. Please recall that this date is after the former NBBF Board had expired and the election process for a new Board was already well underway.
3) By the time the decision to hold the tournament in Cotonou was taken and invitations sent out, the former expired NBBF Board had been replaced by the NBBF Secretary General, who now acted as Administrator in conjunction with the Ministry.
4) More importantly, by this time, the official physical addresses (Abuja and Lagos Stadium offices), to receive correspondence from FIBA was now under the control of the Acting Administrator (NBBF Secretary General). Similarly, the official NBBF email address, through which FIBA always communicated (nigeriabballfederation@yahoo.
com), was also controlled by the NBBF Secretary General. I am sure anyone of us who have had cause to receive or send correspondence to the NBBF through the years, will confirm that the above have always been the official physical and email contacts for the NBBF.
5) The purpose of all the above information is to lay the foundation for establishing the fraud that took place, and which resulted in two different delegations claiming to both represent Nigeria at the Cotonou tournament. Thus far, we can deduce from the preceding that as at the time the final decision was taken by FIBA to host the tournament in Cotonou, only the Secretary General of the NBBF could have received any official correspondence about it from FIBA. By the same token, only he could have sent in any registration which would be found acceptable by FIBA, for the tournament.
THE FIBA INVITATION AND THE NBBF REGISTRATION
1) On July 4th 2017, further to initial inquiries the preceding week, FIBA sent a letter to the Secretary General at the official email address of NBBF (nigeriabballfederation@yahoo.
com), which was received by the Secretary General Mr Chimezie Asiegbu.
2) On that same July 4th, the Secretary General sent in an official response to FIBA dated same day, confirming that both the Nigerian men and women’s teams, will participate in the Cotonou tournament.
3) Believing that he had only a very short time to effect the country’s participation in the tournament, the Secretary swung into action to invite players, coaches and delegates, based on the information gleaned from a similar international 3×3 tournament recently hosted in Lagos. He therefore invited players and officials who had excelled in participation at that Lagos tournament.
4) Further to this, on the 5th of July, the Secretary General sent out a formal letter requesting Kano Pillars basketball Club to release three of their players for the 3×3 in Cotonou. The letter was addressed to the Chairman of the Kano State Sports Commission and suitably distributed.
5) The Kano State Sports Commission responded with a letter dated 6th July, declining to release the players on the excuse that they had injuries and the team had crucial games.
6) Incidentally these same Kano Pillars players who were not released on the pretext that they were injured, somehow healed miraculously and showed up at the same Cotonou to play for the illegal Nigerian national team only a couple of days later.
7) On the 5th July, a letter requesting the release of their player, was sent to the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, requesting the release of one of their players.
8) There was no official response to that letter, although we have it on good authority that the Civil Defence player was duly released and available, although he eventually did not make the trip due to logistics reasons.
9) Similarly, on that same day 5th July, a letter was written by the NBBF to the Consultant of First Bank Female Basketball Club (Mr Segun Odegbami), requesting the release of three of their players and the team coach.
10) There was no written response from First Bank, although their Miss Barbara Harper who was apparently in charge of the team up to a point, kept assuring that the NBBF request had been honored and their people released to the NBBF. The arrangement was for the NBBF contingent to pick up the girls and proceed to Cotonou. However, while the contingent was in the bus en route to the First Bank camp to pick the girls, Mr Segun Odegbami decided that the girls would only be released to Tijjani Umar and definitely not to the NBBF. In fact, this turned out to be the case as the girls had been picked up by the Tijjani Umar group led by Mr Ejike Medos (one of their purported members), and taken to Cotonou to pose as the Nigerian National team.
11) Just as an aside, this illegal Nigerian team did not even have national or ‘Nigeria’ branded kit, but showed up wearing ‘Fantastic Four’ apparel. What would they have donned if they had been allowed to represent Nigeria? Was this a tournament for Clubs, or National teams?
12) In the meantime, the Secretary General, based on the realization that some of the players would not honor the invitation of the NBBF, had extended new invitations to new players to replace those who had declined.
13) Thus, Nigeria sent in its ONLY official registration to FIBA, listing all the male and female players anticipated, on the 6th of July 2017.
14) FIBA acknowledged this registration in writing, on that same day 6th July 2017.
15) On the 7th July, FIBA wrote to the NBBF requesting for the names of its officials, and stating the time of the Technical meeting for the tournament.
16) On the same day 7th July 2017, the Secretary General of the NBBF responded to FIBA, conveying the names of the accompanying officials.
17) THERE IS NO OTHER OFFICIAL REGISTRATION RECEIVED OR ACCEPTED BY FIBA, FROM OR FOR NIGERIA, REGARDING THE 3X3 TOURNAMENT IN COTONOU.
1) Please recall that the official email address that FIBA has always used for communication with the NBBF is nigeriabballfederation@yahoo.
2) Also recall that since the expiry of the former Board and the appointment of the Secretary General as Administrator, correspondence in this email box became inaccessible to anyone except the Secretary General, Mr Chimezie Asiegbu.
3) Similarly, recall that the request to Kano Pillars, and First Bank, asking them to release their players for the Cotonou tournament was sent to them on the 5th of July 2017.
4) Juxtapose then, that by some uncanny coincidence, a letter from the former NBBF Board is cleverly disguised and sent to FIBA on the same 5th of July. Which happens to be just one day after the letter of invitation was received by the authentic NBBF, from FIBA. And happens to be the same day that the release request went out to Kano Pillars and First Bank. What a wonderful coincidence!
5) The fraudulent letter plays on a common tactic engaged by internet fraudsters. As an example, please refer to the 419 letters which many of us have received, purportedly from GTBank, American Express or anyone of a million impostors. These letters depend for their success, on you hitting the reply button by reflex under the assumption that you are continuing interaction with a well-known entity.
6) In this case, the fraudulent letter was sent to the same FIBA address, and to the same recipient, from which the initial invitation correspondence came the day before. And it simply asked for the invitation and documents etc for registering our (NBBF’s) teams. To the casual recipient of such a mail, it would seem that the NBBF may not have properly received the previous day’s correspondence and attached documents, especially since the email address was similar (firstname.lastname@example.org). Therefore, the unsuspecting FIBA fellow simply hit the reply button and again sent what he had sent the previous day, under the assumption that he was still dealing with the same NBBF.
7) The fraudulent letter was signed by a Mr Emmanuel Enejor with a stated phone number 08038266483.
8) In a bid to balance my investigations, I called Mr Enejoh and was able to speak with him. I explained all the information which I had been able to uncover, and requested to hear his own side of the matter so as to have a balanced opinion. Mr Enejoh declined to comment, saying that he was not the person in the proper position to do so. In vain, did I point out that he seemed eminently qualified to comment, since he was the signatory of the alleged false correspondence to FIBA, and had titled himself as the ‘Administrative Secretary’ of the NBBF in that letter.
9) For those who may recall, Mr Enejoh is the IT person recruited to work with the former NBBF Board. He is not a staff of the Ministry and is purely hired on a personal basis. But he is sufficiently IT compliant…if you catch my drift.
10) It is also important to note that the former NBBF Board (or Nigerian reserve national team, if you will), only managed to receive a copy of the invitation letter already sent to the authentic NBBF Secretary General by FIBA, but were unable to carry out their deception beyond that level. They were not able to register any players or team as ‘Nigeria’, simply because the authentic NBBF Secretary General had already duly registered the National team and its players.
11) However, faced with that insurmountable obstacle, but determined to still cause as much embarrassment and confusion as possible, they re-invented themselves.
12) Realizing that the NBBF had replaced the Kano Pillars players registrations when their organization showed their hand too early, they resolved to continue to lead the NBBF on, about the participation of the First Bank girls. And they nearly pulled this scam off, since the diversion of these girls in Cotonou came at the last minute, when their registration had already been concluded by the authentic NBBF.
13) Please note in all this that none of the players should be held accountable or responsible for all this trickery and subterfuge which they were constrained to participate in. To blame them for any of it would be terribly unfair, considering the circumstances in which our players currently find themselves.
14) And that is how a second team managed to fraudulently present itself as representing Nigeria in an international FIBA tournament.
1) The rest is history. Two contingents showed up in Cotonou claiming to represent only one country, Nigeria.
2) It should have been a simple matter for the organizers to identify the authentic ontingent and send the erring one packing, but by then certain complications had set in.
A – The illegal team was intent on turning the situation into a fracas and an international incident which would embarrass Nigeria further.
B – Towards this end, they had the tacit support of the host President (Alex Paraiso), who is the President of the Benin Federation. Mr Paraiso has been a long standing friend of the topmost two officials of the former NBBF board over the years, and is a staunch supporter of their current cause. To those who may recall, during the last elections to elect the Zone Three President, it was Paraiso who assiduously worked with the former NBBF Board in their attempt to divert the Zonal Presidency from Nigeria.
C – During this impasse, even after FIBA confirmed to Mr Paraiso that FIBA had registered only the authentic NBBF team and that any other team was an impostor, Mr Paraiso still insisted that there was nothing he could do to remedy the situation, because “he did not have adequate security personnel to handle the likely fracas that would result if he allowed the NBBF team to participate”. Can you imagine that!
D – To enforce the position of the authentic NBBF, a section of the players who had been brought to the tournament would have had to be put in an uncomfortable position and suffer collateral damage. This would only have polarized our Nigerian basketball family further and caused unnecessary affliction to players.
3) As a result of all the above, the authentic NBBF team decided to withdraw from the tournament, leaving the illegal team to participate in the tournament. This was done in a bid to save Nigeria from further international disgrace and embarrassment.
4) However, as it now turned out, the illegal team could still not participate in the tournament, simply because they were never registered for the tournament and were not recognized as an authentic Nigerian team. The truth about their deception therefore eventually came out. Although, it must be said that they still left the tournament exceedingly pleased with themselves for all the trouble and commotion which they had managed to cause, not minding the damage to our basketball or Nigeria as a country.
So over to you now……..What should happen next? As for me, I think this is clearly no longer a matter for the Ministry of Sports alone……Now the Ministry of External Affairs must get involved to know why Nigeria’s image was so seriously compromised…..The DSS and the Police must step in to investigate any possible criminal matters that have occurred in the process. These renegades have now crossed the line, and they have demonstrated that there is no haven they consider too sacred to desecrate…That there is no cost too high to subject our country to, in the pursuit of their end game……And Yes! They have an ‘END GAME’!….But we will talk about that later….I have already taken too much of your time today.
The Oracle salutes your patience!