Azania Omo-Agege, Chief Executive Officer, Z.A Entertainment, Effurun, Delta State, is set to drag Mrs Sally Mbanefo, Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, to court for violating some provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, his organization had entered into with NTDC in the build up to the 2014 World Cup.
Omo-Agege alleges that Mbanefo had cornered funds running into hundreds of millions of naira meant for the establishment of the Nigerian Football Fans Village, NFFV, at the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2014.
According to Omo-Agege, his original idea of the NFFV was to use it as a platform to market and sell Nigeria and everything Nigerian through her cultural heritage and live performances of foremost Nigerian musicians at the Mundial.
"It was also supposed to be a business forum where bilateral business windows would be opened to the village participants, Nigerians, and the Brazilian business community," he said.
However things got to a head in Rio de Janeiro when NTDC refused to release funds for the NFFV facilities which Z.A Entertainment had already set up in Brazil.
"Rather than use the funds corporate bodies had donated for the project judiciously, Mbanefo set up a phony Nigerian Football Fans Village in a small hotel room at the Bastron Augusta hotel, a room which could barely contain 20 persons, instead of the already contracted facility with plenty of space — a hall that could take more than three thousand persons with added facilities fit for a football fans village," Omo-Agege explained.
Since Z.A Entertainment was starved of funds, it created an embarrassing situation, as all the parties with outstanding payments from agreements signed with the organization resorted to harassment of Z.A Entertainment officials, which made the DG, NTDC, to flee to Nigeria.
Omo-Agege also said Mbanefo had started on a fraudulent note from the outset by substituting the pages of the proposal containing bank accounts to be used to collect funds in order to remove the bank account belonging to Z.A Entertainment.
"We are aware that the Director General collected funds running into hundreds of millions from various corporate bodies," Omo-Agege maintained.
However, Omo-Agege has petitioned the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Integration as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC. And they have both waded into the matter. After ICPC had carried out a thorough investigation into the matter, it summoned both parties and they agreed to an amicable settlement. Mbanefo agreed to pay Z.A Entertainment the sum of N3.5 million naira, being part of expenses it incurred in Brazil. The Director-General was given a 21-day ultimatum to pay the money. According to Omo-Agege, the ultimatum has since expired, without any word from Mbanefo.
However, Omo-Agege said he was still willing to resolve the matter amicably with the NTDC, adding that he would only resort to taking a legal action if peaceful resolution fails.
Attempts to get Mbanefo to speak on the matter was to no avail, as she directed this reporter, via a text message, to the Press Unit of the NTDC. However, as at press time, the reporter couldn’t get through to the Press Unit, despite several attempts.