Heartland FC of Owerri have asked the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to probe the purported release of three of their players, Orji Kalu Okagbue , Osas Okoro and Bobby Clement to neighbours, Rangers International of Enugu by the Arbitration Committee without the consent and knowledge of both the club and the League management Company (LMC).
Cajetan Nkwopara, spokesman of the Naze Millionaires said on Sunday Heartland had forwarded a protest to both the NFF and the LMC over the illegal release of the three players to Enugu Rangers, demanding an investigation into the matter even as league officials and some committee members have washed their hands off the illegal release.
All the three played for Heartland last season and were registered with the club for the current season before they were purportedly given one year provisional clearance each to feature for Rangers International by the Arbitration Committee.
Nkwopara said the claim by the players that they were being owed salaries by Heartland was completely false as the club was up to date with players’ wages by January 16, 2015 when the three players last reported for duty after returning from the Christmas break before disappearing from camp.
He said the only money the club owed to some of the old players was the balance of the sign-on fee for the previous season which the players had already agreed in a meeting with the state government, would be paid on installment basis after the sign on fee system was scrapped and replaced with enhanced salary package.
The club’s spokesman said that although the committee never invited Heartland to explain their own side of the story, they on hearing of the rumour of an impending case in the Arbitration Committee, sent out documents to both the LMC and the committee through the NFF secretariat proving it had not defaulted in payment of wages to the players.
He said after that, Rangers wrote Heartland requesting for the services of Kalu Okagbue and Osas Okoro to which the Owerri side promptly replied asking them to come for negotiation and putting forward a price proposal but which Rangers are yet to react to.
Instead, Rangers went ahead to feature Kalu Okagbue and Osas Okoro in the Weeks Four & Five games of the current premier league season.
Nkwopara said LMC officials have expressed ignorance of the reasons on which the provisional clearance was based as the action of the Arbitration Committee did not meet the requirement of the new rules.
However, some members of the committee have denied knowledge of the clearance papers issued to the players giving the impression that their release may have involved only a few committee members.
The club spokesman said Heartland are ready to take every legal step to restore justice as not doing so will not only harm the interest of the club but the entire Nigerian league.