Bayelsa FA boils over ‘illegal’ elections, ban on players’ unions

Some stakeholders in Bayelsa State football have threatened to jail the state’s Football Association (FA) officials for allegedly conducting ‘illegal’ local council elections in spite of an existing court order to stop the exercise till further notice.

The stakeholders, at the weekend, alleged that the Bayelsa State FA conducted elections at the councils without notifying stakeholders and others interested in vying for the positions.

Chairman of the Bayelsa State chapter of the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN), Rumson Baribote, told The Guardian that local council elections were held without due process.”

He said he would be compelled to go back to court to seek Bayelsa FA officials’ arrest for contempt of court if they did not retrace their steps.

Reacting to PFAN’s allegations, Bayelsa State FA suspended PFAN and its sister body, National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANPF), saying they are not recognised by the association.

In a communiqué made available to The Guardian, the association said that it has constituted a general assembly to look into issues affecting football and other related matters.

In a communiqué signed by Tulagha Ebimieowei, Diseye Nwankwe and Perela Aboro, the FA said that it received a complaint from Dr Timi Ozaka, a member of NANPF, Bayelsa State Chapter, challenging the election of Baribote as chairman of the players’ union in the state.

According to the communiqué, Ozaka alleged “that there was never a time the players’ union in Bayelsa State elected Baribote as its chairman.

“That the last time the union had its election was in 2015; that the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria PFAN) Bayelsa State chapter is not known to the players in Bayelsa, that the only authentic body governing the affairs of players in Bayelsa State is the National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers (NANPF) Bayelsa State chapter.’

It added that the endorsement of Baribote as the chairman of the players’ body in the state by the board of the Bayelsa FA is unacceptable.

It also alleged that the last time PFAN paid its yearly affiliation dues to the Bayelsa FA was in 2015, noting, “that there is no record that the body has paid any affiliation dues to the association to warrant its admission as an affiliate of the Bayelsa State FA.

“Consequently, the General Assembly resolved that both (NANPF) and (PFAN) Bayelsa State chapters are not qualified to be affiliate members of the Bayelsa State Football Association, having failed to hold elections to constitute their respective executive bodies and pay affiliation dues to the Bayelsa State Football Association.”

The Bayelsa State FA suspended both bodies until they regularised their membership of the FA.

But Baribote dismissed the suspension, saying that it is unconstitutional.

“PFAN is challenging the election in court and the FA allegedly held a congress, where they said they do not recognise PFAN. That is laughable because it is like telling Nigerian referees they have been sacked from the NFF. You cannot expel a statutory body from the football association.”

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