Former Super Eagles assistant coach, Sylvanus Okpala, has said he took the issue of his slashed match bonuses and termination of appointment by the Nigeria Football Football Federation to the Court of Arbitration for Sports after the means he employed to resolve the issue amicably failed.
Okpala had his match bonuses slashed during the victorious campaign of the Eagles at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, before he was eventually disengaged by the federation on April 1, 2013.
“In April (2013) when I was sacked, I wrote a letter through the Senate President to the Chairman Senate Committee on Sports. I attached all the necessary details in the letter but I never received a reply.
“I also wrote through the Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, to the Chairman House Committee on Sports. He got my letter but he never called me. He only came out to say NFF shouldn’t have sacked anybody,” Okpala said.
“The former minister (of sports) knew what was happening. He was told that my allowances were going to be slashed but he did nothing. I was in the minister’s office for five hours but he refused to see me. That was why I went to CAS.”
Okpala, a 1980 AFCON winner, said officials of the federation caused various problems for the national team at the 2013 AFCON, which he said forced Keshi to ‘resign’ after their second group game.
He said, “Our opponents on the pitch were not our real opponents. Our real opponents were our own people. There was so much pressure right from the first match and Keshi resigned twice in South Africa.
“After the first match, they wanted to remove us but it was Amanze Ucheagbulam, who told them that it was not right. But they didn’t heed his advice.
“So, when they came to our camp after the second match, Keshi said he was leaving. (Aminu) Maigari (NFF president) came to insult us and at a point, Keshi couldn’t resist it and he said, “Give me my ticket let me go back to Nigeria.” This was after we drew 1-1 with Zambia. He came with other board members Emeka Inyama, Mike Umeh and Felix Anyansi-Agwu.
“It was Umeh and Anyansi-Agwu, who calmed Keshi down and told him to continue with his job. Keshi accepted and we went on to win the cup.”
Okpala added, “Maigari should show Nigerians the minutes of the meeting where it was agreed that my match bonuses should be slashed. There is a board, so one or two persons cannot take a decision for a board of 15 people.”
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