By Sedara Philip
The Interim Management Committee (IMC) has assured Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) Clubs and all stakeholders of fair, transparent and balanced decisions on all issues requiring the intervention of the league body.
Davidson Owumi, the Head of Operations of IMC, in a statement said it’s decisions has never been made to favour any club including those of Board members and cited an earlier sanction on Niger Tornadoes, whose Chairman, Hon Adamu Aliyu Mohammed is on the board of the IMC.
He therefore offered assurances that IMC interventions through the instrument of the Summary Jurisdiction will always apportion sanctions on, and reliefs to clubs based on findings supported by the rules.
“Our rulings are blind to who or what clubs are involved as we only adhere strictly to the dictates of the Framework and Rules. In a MatchDay 6 ruling, we fined Niger Tornadoes who has their Chairman as our Board member. The rule was not bent to favour him”, Owumi noted.
With regards to the allegation of playing football politics that has been levied against the IMC, he dismissed the claims as not supported by the facts on hand in the fixture between Niger Tornadoes vs Lobi Stars.
“It needs be stated that in line with NFF Statutes, decisions are based on reports of Match Officials and in complex situations with no clear cut position established from the reports, we invite all parties for oral testimonies”, he further explained
The IMC Officer recalled that an online Situation Room was set up and it brings in Match Commissioners for every MatchDay to provide regular update of incidents at their centres which guides responses from the IMC when there are untoward developments.
The statement went on to explain that “In the matter of Tornadoes vs Lobi Stars, there were no reports of such incident on the Situation Room. But the Match Commissioner’s report raised the issue of verbal abuse of the Match Officials for which the club was sanctioned appropriately”.
“It is the content of the Match Commissioner’s report in the fixture under reference that led to the imposition of relevant sanctions for observed breaches”.
Recalling the ruling of the IMC on the case under reference, it was stated that “the Club was fined and one Mr. Kabiru Muazu, identified as having verbally abused the Referees was suspended from NPFL activities for the rest of the season”.
The ruling relied on the Match Commissioner’s report which indicated that there was adequate security before, during and after the match.
“None of the Referees reported any case of assault and our Summary Jurisdiction Notice was based on the report of verbal abuse reported by the Match Commissioner”.
“The IMC is committed to applying the rules without fear or favour especially in the area of stamping out intimidation of our Referees. It was a solemn pledge made by our Chairman, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye at the start of the season”, Owumi continued.
Interestingly, the two such rulings of the IMC on this touchy issue of assault on Match Officials have been well received by the public and generated favourable media commentaries.
“It is a difficult decision we must uphold to restore integrity of match outcomes and reduce to the barest minimum, the dangerous attacks on Match Officials to avoid possible fatality at NPFL matches”, he concluded