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The South-South Football Stakeholders has rejected the 15-year ban placed on Victor Rumson Baribote by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), declaring that the action was a witch-hunt of members from the zone.
This decision was reached during an extra-ordinary meeting of the body which held in Benin City on Friday. The stakeholders noted that the NFF’s resolution to ban Baribote was a hasty one and did not follow due process.
The body stressed that banning a man who is contributing so much to Nigerian football development by being one of the few private owners of a Glo Premier League club is a total injustice to the nation’s football.
The Stakeholders maintained that henceforth any attempt by any group to intimidate its members would be resisted. It stated that the body is made up of law-abiding citizens of Nigeria who are not interested in causing trouble.
The group stressed that the people of the zone have contributed immensely to Nigerian football, while arguing that the zone deserves to be treated with respect with regard to how they treat their members.
“We are not against punishing of anyone who has contravened the law, but we are insisting that in doing so, all channels of due process must be followed before such punishment is meted out,” a statement from the Stakeholders said. “We are proud of Baribote for sponsoring a Premier League club in the country. We feel he should be applauded by those managing the nation’s football for given employment to several youth of this country and not be crucified.”
The group then showered encomiums on clubs from the zone for their performance in the last league season. “After reviewing the performance of last season, we commend the efforts of club owners from the zone and governors in the states for their continuous support of the club.”
All aggrieved members of the zone were then charged to come together in the fight to save the South-South. The body maintained that it is only through that they can withstand the seeming intimidation targeted at its members. It called for a regular holding of its zonal meeting especially as the NFF election draws near.
Finally, the Stakeholders’ representatives on both the current NFF board and those that would emerge in the future were charged to take the interest of the South-South zone at heart.
Several top dignitaries from the zone graced the meeting, among them were former Nigeria Premier League Chairman, Oyuki Obaseki, Edo State Commissioner for Sports, Omorede Osifo, Commissioner for Sports in Rivers State, Barrister Fred Igwe, Edo State Director of Sports, Betty Omoruyi and the Chairmen of Bayelsa United, Nembe, Dolphins, and Sharks FC. The others were Harrison Jalla, Ben Agari, Colins Eselemo among several others.