Former Secretary-General of the Football Association of Nigeria, Bolaji Ojo-Oba, has revealed how he narrowly escaped prison after he and other top football association officials were accused of shoddy deals at the 2010 World Cup, among others.
On July 7, 2010, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission agents arrested Ojo-Oba and three other suspects, namely Sani Lulu, ex-NFF president; Amanze Uchegbulam, ex-NFF Vice President and Taiwo Ogunjobi, an ex-NFF Secretary General.
They were charged on September 6, 2010 for alleged misappropriation of funds without proper accountability for the use of the money during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
They were specifically charged with siphoning about $125,000 through sloppy hotel bookings in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, lost $250,000 due to booking the wrong airline for the trip, $400,000 reportedly spent on the Nigeria/Nigeria friendly match. Colombia and $236,000, which disappeared from the treasury of the Glass House in 2009.
Other allegations against them included taking $5 million in marketing revenue that the NFF received from FIFA and World Cup corporate sponsors, N96 million allegedly used in the purchase of two luxury buses for the national team, N34 million reportedly were issued to hold elections for football. body, $1.2 million unaccounted for World Cup grant and N185 million reportedly shared by state FA presidents in their vain attempt to frustrate their eviction from the football home.
However, Ojo-Oba, along with the three others, was fired in 2018 and acquitted by the Court of Appeals after the Federal Supreme Court convicted them in 2016.
Four years after they were acquitted, Ojo-Oba said he would have lost his case if he had used the expertise of his then personal assistant Dr. Chris Emeruwa had not kept up.
Emeruwa, now the head of the Department of Safety and Security, CAF, is vying for the NFF presidency in next month’s poll in Benin City.
“Public opinion was against us after the 2010 World Cup when we (Super Eagles) did not perform well and were told to go. We were taken here and there. When we saw the allegations, we couldn’t believe it,” Ojo-Oba said in Lagos on Wednesday.
“They wanted to get rid of us at all costs, so they said we blacked out the N900m. The crime carries a seven-year sentence, but I thank Emeruwa for keeping me from going to jail. While he was my PA, he made Photostat copies of all the documents coming in and out of my office, I never knew he kept records. That was what saved me; I could have been in jail.”