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NFF must dig deep into Auwalu Baba Jada’s shameful video

Last week Tuesday, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) announced the immediate suspension of a former chairman of Wikki Tourists football club, Malam Auwalu Baba Jada,…

Last week Tuesday, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) announced the immediate suspension of a former chairman of Wikki Tourists football club, Malam Auwalu Baba Jada, from all football-related activities, pending investigations into a disturbing video that is still trending on social media, in which he is the principal character.

The decision by the NFF is commendable because the content of the video deserves immediate action. In the video, the embattled football administrator arrogantly boasted of how he had helped some clubs to fix matches in the 2022 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season. In fact, like someone suffering from ‘diarrhoea of the mouth’, he boldly said it was only one club that he couldn’t manipulate. Jada himself exposed how he masterminded the relegation of Katsina United and helped Kano Pillars  to beat 3SC to save another club from relegation.

Expectedly, the video clip elicited different reactions with a majority of football stakeholders expressing shock over his audacity to proudly and confidently boast about his misdeeds. To make matters worse, the video surfaced shortly after his name was announced among some people who have been appointed by the Ministry of Sports to serve as members of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) for the NPFL. As we are all aware, the IMC was set up following the controversial scrapping of the League Management Committee (LMC) by the sports ministry.

Therefore, the wide circulation of the video has since been attributed to the members of the scrapped LMC who are said to be desperate to rubbish not only Auwalu but also question the credibility and integrity of the remaining members of the IMC. Even if it is true that the aggrieved members of the scrapped LMC facilitated the release of the damning video, their action didn’t suggest in any way that the video is false. In fact, a criminal offence is committed, so that should remain an issue of primary concern. Nobody should succumb to any emotional blackmail. Moreover, in war situations, all is said to be fair. So, the LMC guys have done no wrong even if they were the ones who released what is now known as ‘Malam Auwalu video’.

The action so far taken by the NFF may be perceived to be the final fall of  Auwalu who has since been delisted from the IMC committee but I see it in a different way. However, I see it as a temporary fall because experiences have shown that in Nigeria, even when offenders are caught red handed on tape, there are hardly any repercussions or consequences to serve as deterrent to others. A few examples will suffice here. 

A serving Governor was once caught on camera stuffing foreign currencies into his babariga but he is still governing his state. A serving randy Senator was also caught on camera brutalizing a lady over a disagreement inside a shop that deal exclusively on sex-enhancers but he is still making laws for the people of Nigeria. A talented female singer also appeared in a sex video which to many was quite embarrassing but apart from the support she received from most of her fans, she also composed another song ‘somebody’s son’. It was an instant hit and Nigerians still sing and dance to it. A former Governor and at the time of the incident, a serving Senator, was caught pants down with his mistress in a dingy hotel room but he only made a joke of it all and nothing happened. And from the north-central, a serving Senator who is known for his sexual escapades with daughters of Eve was linked to a shameful audio tape in which a married lady shamelessly narrated how she gave him ‘three rounds’ at a stretch but he is still in the hallowed chamber making laws which we must obey.

If the characters in the above incidents were subjected to appropriate punitive measures, maybe there wouldn’t have been any basis for anyone to think that Auwalu’s fall might only be temporary. One could have said the man in the match-fixing video is gone for good but this is Nigeria where it is hard for people to pay for their transgressions.

However, since the NFF has promised to investigate into the ugly video, it is necessary to encourage the football federation to do a thorough job. Some people might feel it will amount to a waste of time investigating someone who found it convenient to expose his secret deeds but this issue is more than one individual.

As most of us are aware, match-fixing is a syndicated crime involving so many people. NFF must dig deep to unearth Auwalu’s accomplices. He should be asked to name those LMC staff, club officials and referees who helped him in fixing the matches that he mentioned. After all, he boasted in the video that there is no club or state in Nigeria that he can’t penetrate. This means, many heads will roll, if the ethics and integrity unit of the NFF would do a thorough job.

Match-fixing is a dangerous crime. In serious countries where sports, particularly football is serious business, those who are caught fixing matches are not treated with kid gloves. They are most times banned from football for life. Clubs are also relegated when caught in the web of match-fixing. It will be recalled that Juventus were relegated to Serie B in 2006 due to their involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. They were also stripped of their 2004/2005 title and began the 2006/2007 Serie B season on a nine-point deficit. This is how serious nations deal with those who fix matches.

Therefore, Nigerians are waiting eagerly to see what would come out of  the investigation to be conducted by the NFF. Maybe, this time, we would move beyond rhetorics to actual punishment for those who are hell bent on destroying Nigerian football. So, Malam Auwalu’s open confession  mustn’t be treated with levity or swept under the carpet. Like my friend ACC Chukwuemeka, we keep monitoring the situation but this time, with microscopic glasses.