My ordeal in the hands of kidnappers, NPFL chiefs – Afolabi 

A staff with Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) secretariat, Gbenga Afolabi, has narrated a detailed account of his traumatic experiences he endured while being held captive by kidnappers and upon his release how he was subjected to harassment by his bosses in the NPFL.

“My predicament with NPFL chair, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Davidson Owumi started after my release from my abductors. After my recuperation and therapy,  I demanded for refund of the money my family borrowed to pay part of the ransom-this irked and infuriated them. The money is N2.7m”

Afolabi who had been working with NPFL for 16 years, was kidnapped on his way to Jos, Plateau state during an official assignment to inspect the Jos International Stadium ahead of the 2022/23 NPFL season as an ‘inspector’ shared the horrifying details of his abduction and ordeal with Blueprint Sports over the weekend in Abuja.

According to him, he was sent to Jos on the directives of the COO, Owumi via a memo sent to him on his Whatsapp in November 2022.

According to him, stakeholders like Remo Stars owners, chief Kunle Soname, Sokoto FA chairman and the General Secretary of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Dr.Sanusi Mohammed are aware of the incident though it was kept as a top secret.

Narrating his ordeal, Afolabi who alleged that Hon. Elegbeleye and Owumi subjected him to inhuman treatment said he missed death by whiskers, following the discovery that he was a Yorubaman with his abductors showing him video of Fulani been killed in the South-West.

“What eventually saved my life was when I told them that I have been living in the North for the past twenty years and had a lot of Fulani as friends who can vouch and attest to me. I gave them the name of Dan Fulani who is the General Manager of Gombe United which they called and after informing him that I was kidnapped, begged them not to kill me because they will accused him of behind the crime, started negotiating and promising the kidnappers that the ransom will be paid as early as possible-before I was eventually released.

“I was taken to an unknown place in their vehicle after almost eight hours of leaving Abuja. It was one of the Plateau United’s official, Abel who eventually called my phone-my phone was with them which his kidnappers opened discussions with my family,

demanding a ransom of N60 million.

“I called Owumi intermittently he refused to pick my calls after begging the kidnappers to allow me call my office. Till the following day nobody in the NPFL get across to me. It was Abel from Plateau United and Dan Fulani that negotiated and secured my release.

“We eventually paid N3.9m to them before I was released with Plateau United paying the largest chunk of the money, my family had to borrowed N2.8m and some of the money also came from Gombe United.

“When I was released –Owumi told me that the board has resolved that they should refund me about N2.8m or N2.9. One month, two, almost eight months after nothing happened. Elegbeleye and Owumi started pretending as if nothing happened to me.  I wrote memo asking for refund- no reply from them,” he said.

He alleged that “Elegbeleye phoned me to abused me that I’m useless animal, idiots likewise Owumi for demanding for refund. I’m going through traumatic experience. I’m indebted and the creditors are after me.” 

Responding to Blueprint sports, Hon Elegbeleye said in a text message “Please tell him to show his letter of appointment if he is a staff of the NPFL. I never sent anyone on errand.”

The NPFL head of secretariat, Davidson Owumi, refused to respond to this reporter’s request for his own side of the story despite several SMS messages sent to his number.