Former Chairman of Gombe State Football Association, Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe, has again opened up on a match-fixing scandal involving a team from Gombe State, Bubayero FC in the 2013 Division 3 play-off of the nationwide league and exonerated himself of any involvement in the ‘scandalous score-line’.
He attributed the latest move by some certain individuals to link him with the ‘scandalous match-fixing’ nine years after the Nigeria Football Federation NFF investigative committee found culprits guilty and banned them for life, as a calculated attempt to smear his image.
He challenged anybody with fresh on his involvement in the scandalous match-fixing to come out publicly and prove his case, saying he is not scared of anything as the facts of his none involvement in the Bubayero 67 goals scandal are there for everybody to verify.
“I’m surprised that whenever I raise issues about people instead of them to defend themselves or say their own side of the story, they would be digging stories that are neither here nor there or don’t have any strength to stand the test of time.
‘On the issue of the scandalous and embarrassing match-fixing incident where a team from Gombe State, Bubayero conceded 67 goals against Police Machine and Plateau United Feeders 79-0 beat Akurba FC from Nasarawa.
This particular playoff was played in Bauchi and four teams were involved. But only one would qualify to play in the Nationwide League, and I was told that goal difference will be used to determine who qualifies.
“My team, Bubayaro FC. I made it clear right from day one that I did not form the club for competition, not to play in the league because it is going to be a waste of time. I formed the club for developmental purposes.
That faithful week when the incident happened, I was in Lagos and I read on social media that my own team was in Bauchi to participate in the playoff with Police Machine.
So, I immediately called the secretary of the club and asked him how did they get to Bauchi and under whose permission, he said the chairman of Gombe State Sports Commission was the one that gave them money to travel to Bauchi and I asked him how, or under what circumstances did the chairman gave you money to travel for the match?
“I immediately instructed him to enter the next bus with the team and return to Gombe. But against my wish, he refused to go back to Gombe. I then sent the coordinator of the club from Gombe who was also LMC match commissioner, Ibrahim, to go to Bauchi in the morning before they start the match and return with the club back to Gombe. Unfortunately, they refused to heed my advice. In the evening I read that they conceded 67 goals. I immediately disbanded the club.
“After disbanding the club, I wrote a letter to the General Secretary of NFF, informing him about the disbandment of the club following that embarrassing and shameful act by the team and officials.
The NFF acknowledged my letter and I copied CAF and FIFA because two days after, the news was all over the world. I also spoke to a BBC reporter who called me to ask why I took such prompt and bold action to disband the team after investing so much in the club.
I told him that I don’t support match-fixing and any act that would damage the game of football. He thanked me and appreciated my position. Someone from FIFA also called me after receiving my letter to thank me for my courage.
“The NFF set up a committee under the chairmanship of Chief Mike Umeh and the secretary was Dr. Muhammed Sanusi who is now General Secretary of NFF, but he was head of competitions then. There were other members of the committee to investigate and try those involved in the scandalous match-fixing.
The match officials, the players of the two teams, and their officials, all appeared before the panel, and they were found guilty of match-fixing offenses. Some of them were banned for life while others were banned for 10 years.
“Those proactive actions that I took exonerated me. The committee never invited me nor tried me because God knows that I know nothing about it. I didn’t even stop at that since the team that scored my team 67 goal happened to be the Police team, I petitioned the Inspector General of Policy, reporting he should investigate what happened and jail whoever needs to be jailed for the offense.
“If the NFF could not find me guilty, the Police did not find me guilty, I was not in Bauchi, why are some people are today, nine years later, trying to implicate me,” Gara stated.
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