Soludo Kicks against Suspension of Onyedika by FA

By Jude Atupulazi

The Anambra Government has said that the Chikelue Ilonenyosi-led State Football Association lacks the powers to suspend or ban its staff members under the Sports Development Commission from carrying out their duties as assigned to them, including organising football activities.

Patrick-Estate Onyedum, Chairman of the Sports Commission, said this in a letter to the Anambra State Football Association, AnSFA, on Tuesday, while reacting to the purported ban on Chijioke Onyedika, a staff member of the Commission, from taking part in football activities for a period of five years.

Onyedum described the ban as an affront to the authority of Anambra State Government and demanded the immediate withdrawal with unreserved apology, to Gov. Chukwuma Soludo.

Recall that the FA under the Chairmanship of Ilonenyosi, last Monday slammed a ban on Onyedika for allegedly breaching AnSFA statutes by engaging what he (Ilonenyosi) called ‘anti football’ activities.

The FA claimed Onyedika assumed the duties and responsibilities of the AnSFA by organising what it described as illegal football tournaments not approved by the state FA.

‘The board of the Anambra FA has taken the decision to ban you from participating in all football activities in Anambra State for five years.

‘You are warned to desist from appearing on any football pitch or around the stadium in the state because the law enforcement agencies will enforce this ban,’ the FA said.

But the Commission said Ilonenyosi had no powers to suspend the staff who was carrying out official duties as assigned to him and on behalf of the Anambra Government.

According to the Commission, ‘Our attention has been drawn to a misguided and asinine letter from the AnSFA branding a competition organised by the Commission as illegal.

‘The letter purportedly banned Chijioke Onyedika from further participation in football activities and from accessing football arenas anywhere in the state for five years with threats of arrest.

‘The Commission views this as an affront to the authority of Anambra State Government which Onyedika represents.

‘For the avoidance of doubt, Chijioke Onyedika is neither a member nor a representative of the government in the AnSFA Board but a senior staff member of the ASSDC and carries the seal of approval of the state government to act in any capacity assigned to him.

‘Therefore, you do not have the powers to stop him from acting on behalf of the state government; the capacity to stop him from entering any football facility within the state,’ he said.

Onyedum said the Sports Commission was vested with

the powers to drive sports development at the grassroots and amateur levels, adding that the Anambra FA was overreaching itself.

‘This is a veiled and unwarranted attack on the Sports Commission which is vested with the powers to drive sports development at the grassroots and amateur levels as contained in the Commission’s Establishment Law of 2018.

‘The Commission therefore demands withdrawal of that letter within 48 hours and an unreserved apology tendered to the Commission and Mr Governor on whose behalf Chijioke Onyedika is acting,’ he said.

The letter was copied to the Secretary to Anambra Government; Chief Chief of Staff to Gov. Chukwuma Soludo; the Minister of Sports Development’ the Nigeria Football Federation; Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Anambra Chapter and Anambra Referees Council.