Victor Rumson Baribote
By Olawale Ajimotokan
The board of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) Monday asked Victor Rumson Baribote to step aside as the chairman of the league pending the outcome of the investigation of allegations of impropriety levelled against him.
While he is on the side line, the Vice Chairman, Alhaji Shehu Garba Gusau will assume duty as Acting Chairman, pending the outcome of the report of a three-man investigation Committee.
The decision was contained in the communiqué issued by six members of the board after a marathon meeting at the NPL secretariat in Abuja.
Joe Amene, who briefed reporters, said that Baribote was asked to step aside to enable the probe panel establish the causes of the crises between the NPL Board and the Premier League clubs.
Leye Adepoju, who is a member of the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will head the committee, while prominent sports journalist, Ade Ojeikere and a representative of the league clubs, Kasali Obanoyen will serve as members. The Committee has three weeks to submit its report.
The NPL has been enmeshed in crisis in recent times, leading to the failure of the Nigerian football league season to take off.
The crisis was also directly the cause of the decision by 17 of the 20 clubs to sack the board of NPL board last week, without recourse to the Congress.
But the club owners were not placated by the sacking of Baribote, as they insisted Monday night through their spokesman, Alloy Chukwuemeka that the Congress rescheduled for Tuesday in Abuja would go ahead as ordered by the NFF.
NPL board had after Monday’s meeting said the proposed Congress had been called off. It said would now convene its Congress in line with the statutory provisions of the NPL having already forwarded to the NFF the proposed materials for the congress, including the NPL technical report for the 2011/2012 league season and the proposed date for the 2012/2013 league season.
Gusau told reporters that the statutes of the body empowered it to fix the date for the Congress and should not be bound by the directive of NFF.
Though the club owners had declared lack of confidence in the entire board, Gusau defended the decision to single out Baribote on the strength of petitions by Austin Popo and Mike Udofia accusing Baribote of graft.