THE AMOS ADAMU SCANDAL: BETWEEN NIGERIA AND FIFA
“Will it help you make your decision in favour of America in some way?” asked one of the under-cover journalists.
“Obviously,” Amos Adamu replied. “Of course, it will have an effect. Because certainly if you are to invest in that, that means you also want the vote. You know one has to be very discreet about these things.”
Against the backdrop of that seemingly innocuous conversation (recorded on tape and in video), the infamous Amos Adamu finally did his image in. As one of FIFA’s most senior figures, he has become the first official from the soccer body ever to be banned for bribery after six officials were punished following a corruption scandal, in November this year. And that has earned him a three-year ban and 10,000 Swiss franc (£6,341) fine from FIFA’s ethics committee after being found guilty of falling foul of bribery rules. His fellow executive committee member Reynald Temarii was suspended for a year and fined 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,170) for breaking rules on loyalty and confidentiality.
The bans follow a Sunday Times expose which claimed the officials had asked for cash in return for World Cup votes. Neither man will be able to take part in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes on 2 December – only 22 executive members will now take those decisions. Four other Fifa officials, all former executive committee members, have also received bans of between two and four years. The other officials sanctioned were Ismael Bhamjee of Botswana, who was handed a four-year ban, Amadou Diakite of Mali and Ahongalu Fusimalohi of Tonga who were suspended for three years and Tunisian official Slim Aloulou for two. All four were also fined 10,000 Swiss francs.
Adamu is believed to have fooled most Nigerians most of the times; with every scheme of his taking him to a higher position. Neither ICPC nor EFCC could gain mastery over him. Even the late President Yar’Adua tried with his executive fiat, which too was not potent.
He was Director-General of the Nigerian National Sports Commission for 10 years. Prior to his appointment as Director-General, Adamu was the Director of Sports of the ministry for 10 years.
Despite the enviable positions he occupied at various times, one constant feature in his career, as observers alleged, is the penchant for incorporated corruption. “I have been warning Nigerians to be wary of Amos Adamu. He has been controlling a group of mafias in our sports since 1994. He has done so much damage to our sports. Adamu got into FIFA through the backdoor,” stated Martin Osaile, a sports administrator.
In December 2000, Amos Adamu was named president of the Organising Committee for the 8th All-Africa Games, COJA. The games were held in October 2003, in the newly constructed Abuja Stadium. At the end of the games, Adamu and some other personalities, including former president Obasanjo’s kin, were fingered in some dirty financial episode.
Amos Adamu. After that name what usually follows is corruption. Until the FIFA straw that broke his camel’s back, the former director-general of the Nigerian National Sports Commission, NSC, was an Executive Committee member of the Federation of International Football Association, FIFA. Not a few have described him as the chief bane of Nigeria’s sports development.
According to Adetokunbo Adejumo, a social and political commentator, “When he organised All African Games, COJA in 2003, the aftermath was littered with corruption and mismanagement. It was this massive evidence of corruption that made Obasanjo, never a great sports fan himself, decide to back out of Nigeria’s bid to host the first ever Soccer World Cup in Africa, and resulted in South Africa getting that honour. Obasanjo also quickly foresaw that the evidence of corruption will also implicate some members of his family. The EFCC, then under Nuhu Ribadu, wanted to pick him up, but there was so much pressure from high up, that he had to back down. The reason is that if Dr Adamu was ever picked up, he would start singing and the songs will not be melodious to the ears of some very top politicians and officials who had been compromised in the award of bogus or highly inflated contracts for the Games. They therefore had to use a lot of muscle on Ribadu to drop the investigations.”
But, he’s the kind of man who fights to the finish. Usually, corrupt men in Nigeria like to fight to the finish –at least, till they cannot bear the shame and public opprobrium any longer. Then, they sneak into the gutter that produced them. Amos Adamu might be no exception. He had announced he will appeal against his three-year suspension from football, insisting he is “completely innocent” of the charges levelled against him over a cash-for-vote scandal reported by a British newspaper.
“I’m profoundly disappointed by the findings of the ethics committee. I’m completely innocent of these allegations and I will appeal with immediate effect,” Adamu promised.
Adamu got a stiffer punishment than Temarii because in the audio and video footages made public by the Sunday Times of London, he specifically demanded that funds for football projects in Nigeria be transferred through a personal bank account. Adamu’s four-year tenure on the FIFA executive committee was due to end next year.
Adamu, who is also the president of the sub-regional West African Football Union (WAFU), was at a time widely tipped to succeed Issa Hayattou as president of the Confederation of African Football, CAF.