SOME individuals known as the Nigeria Basketball Accountability Group has denied a $2.2m allegation against former President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) Tijjani Umar in a controversial $12m sponsorship deal.
Umar was accused of stealing the money prior to his tenure expiration in the NBBF.
The immediate past board of the NBBF, on the African Independent Television (AIT), had alleged that the board met an empty account upon assumption to office in July 2017.
The ICIR, in an earlier report, had made deliberate efforts to get Umar’s response on the allegations through email and phone calls but failed.
Umar initially asked the reporter to send a text message but later choose not to respond to the inquiry.
Meanwhile, the Umar support group has exonerated the former NBBF president from the allegations, stressing that the accused rather worked tirelessly in the development of basketball in Nigeria.
The group, in an unsigned press release on Wednesday, described findings by The ICIR as ‘fake.’
It labelled the report as “the machination and handiwork of scammers in NBBF determined to foist an obnoxious constitution and buy over voters in a fraudulent election they attempted to organize in Benin City, Edo State, on October 30, 2021.”
“Members of the Nigeria Basketball Accountability Group have described as blatant falsehood and fake news, the recent report alleging the embezzlement of $2.2million of Kwese Sponsorship money by the former NBBF President and now Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar.”
According to the group, “the NBBF under the former president transparently managed sponsorship deals with DStv (2010-2016), Zenith Bank (2009-2016), and Kwese (2016-2017). His tenure recorded the first victory of any African team or any non-American or non-European team and laid the solid foundation for the elevation of the game of basketball in Nigeria both locally and internationally when the Nigerian Men’s team qualified for the London 2012 Olympics through the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).”
The group wondered why the Federal Ministry of Sports had remained silent over the matter if the allegation was true, though a former Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung had raised the allegation on Channels Television news broadcast of January 9, 2018.
An email was sent to [email protected] to verify the group, but there was no response as of the time of filing this report.
This reporter also called the official phone number on the website to confirm the group’s true identity but failed.
Text message sent to the phone line was not responded to.