By Joe Apu
On Thursday, news filtered in that Super Eagles assistant coach Imama Amapakabo was arrested by the Police for allegedly holding unto government property even after he was relieved of his job with Rangers International of Enugu.
While the action of the Enugu State government was condemned by many, others blamed the former Rangers handler for the ugly turn of events.
It was gathered from very reliable sources that after he was fired, Imama wrote to the League Management Committee alleging wrongful termination of contract and both parties were invited by the LMC to state their cases. Imama appeared for himself. Rangers Secretary Joseph Onwukwe represented the club.
Imama was accused of holding onto the official car given to him as head coach of Rangers but rather kept it even after he was sacked. In addition, he was also alleged to have locked up his official apartment and kept the key even after several entreaties to vacate the premises.
However, another source said that Imama had handed over the keys to his apartment to the estate security, but kept the car pending the conclusion of the dispute resolution, according to him, until he gets his money; an action which competent sources condemned.
“Although Imama has a right by law to hold as lien any property for money being owed him, he should he should have surrendered the car when he took the case to arbitration. If you trust the system to right your injury, then you must go to equity with clean hands. On the apartment, he did not follow procedure in having an inventory done before handing over the keys to the estate security. What if the security took advantage to get into the property and remove items there?
Or what if some mischievous Rangers official decides to collude with the security and go in there to remove items/wreck the apartment before an official handover?”
Colin Udoh of Kwese Sports while analysing the situation stated that Rangers claimed they wrote to Imama five times to ask him to return the property. He ignored them. Imama did not deny it.
“Irrespective of that, Rangers were also wrong to have had him arrested and kept overnight in a cell. That is grounds for legal action. Like Imama, they should have waited for the decision of the dispute resolution.”
Imama claimed that he was wrongfully terminated by Rangers and should be paid compensation for the remainder of the contract period as stipulated by the contract.
Rangers, on their part, argued that the coach was properly terminated because he was provided an enabling environment to work and was therefore not entitled to compensation for the termination of the contract.
According to Rangers, Amapakabo breached Clause 7 of his contract by ‘failing to perform.’
And this is where it gets interesting. 7.6 states: the proprietor shall dterminate the contract of the coach on grounds of misconduct or failure to perform but must have to provide the coach with materials thus shall enable him to perform.”
“Recall that Rangers claimed that Imama was fired for ‘failure to perform’,so we go up to Clause 1.10 of the contract to find the definition of Failure to Perform Clause 1.10 defines ‘failure to perform’ on the part of the coach as “Inability…to impart football knowledge on the players or several defeats of the team due to his own fault”
On the part of management, ‘failure to perform’ is defined as: “Failure of management to provide adequate motivation including payment of allowances and salaries when due, provision of logistics, etc”
Imama argued that the several defeats were due to the club’s ‘failure to perform’ by not paying players’ wages on time, limited registration of players leading to injuries (viz not providing him with materials needed to perform) leading to a squad decimated by injuries.
In their response, Rangers via a letter written by their lawyers, claimed that ‘it is not the only club that owe her players in Nigeria’!
To cut a long story short, on that basis, Rangers were found to have wrongly terminated Imama’s contract.
The coach was awarded his two months outstanding salaries, his N600K in outstanding bonuses and allowances, and his $940 in international traveling allowances.
For the compensation, Art 7.8 is clear
“In case of flagrant misconduct on the part of the management, the Head Coach shall be entitled to his full payment of the contract sum for the period aforesaid.”
So that means Rangers are in hock to Imama for the sum of N38 million if Chukwu’s statement that his salary was N2 million a month.
However, both parties were asked to go and come to an amicable settlement on compensation.
Rather than go for the settlement, Rangers had Imama arrested.
When Saturday Sunsports contacted former Super Eagles coach and now Chief Executive Officer of Rangers, Christian Chukwu on the matter, he simply said Rangers was not involved in the arrest of Imama. “What Imama is in possession of is owned by government, so this is between the coach and government and not the club.”