The Chairman of Nigeria National League (NNL), Chidi Okenwa, has restated the commitment of the league body to zero tolerance for corruption and bad officiating in the 2017/2018 Bet9ja NNL season.
Okenwa made the submission on the sidelines of the Bet9ja NNL Annual Congress and Draws held at the Guest House, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP), Surulere, Lagos.
The chairman said that the league body would come hard on those planning to bring the game to disrepute and go against the rules by circumventing to win at all cost.
Tussle… Plateau Utd’s Tosin Omoyele battles with Eagles defender Kalu Orji Okogbue during their opening match.
“In terms of officiating, the President of Nigeria Referee Association (NRA), Tade Williams, and the Chairman of the Football Committee have both given their words.
“We have said that no referee, no matter how highly placed will be spared because the rules permit NRA to caution any erring referee; they have a code of conduct.
“The rules are water-tight and of course, I want to tell anyone that cares to listen that I belong to the old school of thought in assessing referees.
“Those match officials don’t act on their own, they have connivers that instigate their actions, we have those that induce them and they are the club officials,’’ he said.
Okenwa said that referees inducement and corruption in the league was a battle to be won if the league would be taken seriously as one of the important leagues in the country.
“In the event of inducement, I know that there is no referee that will go to any club official to demand for money to favour them. Those club officials are the ones behind it all.
“I will say that the club officials are the guilty party in this case and it has to stop. Bribe taking involves the giver and the taker.
“If they are caught which I am sure of, both parties will not go unpunished just to rid our league of corruption and the sanctity of the game enforced,’’ he said.
The AGM adopted an abridged league system for the NNL.
The league is expected to start in the first week of March and take a break during the World Cup and resume afterwards.
In the abridge league, the Northern and Southern Conferences were partitioned into two groups, A and B, according to proximity.
Group A1 Northern Conference team include Giodana FC, Gombe FC, Sokoto FC, Adamawa United, Jigawa Golden Stars Kastina Feeders and FC Zamfara.
Group A2 Northern Conference team are FC Taraba, Kaduna United, ABS FC, NAF FC, Mighty Jets FC, Kogi United FC and Aklosendi International FC.
Group B1 Southern Conference teams are 3SC, Warri Wolves FC, Gateway United FC, Spartan FC, Akwa Starlets, Abia Comets, Bendel United and J. Atete.
Group B2 Southern Conference teams are Ikorodu United, Nnewi United, Crown FC, Papilo FC, Osun United, Remo Stars FC, Delta Force, Dynamite Stars FC and Delta Stars.