Stationery Stores Supporters Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited (also known as Stationery Stores Supporters Trust) has denied allegations raised against it in a newspaper publication last Saturday.
In a press release, signed by Barrister Oladipupo Atoloye, the assistant national secretary and Soji Akintola, the national treasurer, it was pointed out that the publication reported that Abayomi Banire who claimed to be chairman of Stationery Stores Supporters Club had asked both the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode and Sports minister, Solomon Dalung to ignore the Stationery Stores Supporters Trust in the quest for the return of Super Stores.
According to the press release, Abayomi Banire went on to allege that:
- Stationery Stores Supporters Trust does not represent the interest of Stores’ fans.
- It does not have the permission and consent of the Club owners
- That he, Abayomi Banire is the only one who can facilitate an engagement with the club owners by anyone who wants to “…represent Stores.”
- That the supporters do not know any “James Ime or Yomi Opakunle.”
- That some hijackers have been deceiving the fans and “using the name of the Club to gather players.”
- That the Stationery Stores Supporters Trust has been “collecting money from people”.
Responding to the allegations, the Stationery Stores Supporters Trust wrote:
“We wish to respond, for the avoidance of doubt and to debunk these weighty and libellous allegations as follows:
“The Stationery Stores Supporters Trust is a freewill aggregation of those who support Stationery Stores FC. It is registered as a Cooperative Multipurpose Society with the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives with registration number LSCS 15613 and inaugurated by the officials of its Ikeja Area Office at the Legacy Pitch of the National Stadium Lagos, before the public, on October 22, 2016.
“It is open to only those supporters who wish to join and its membership is not mandatory. It was set up as part of a process of organising interested Supporters and under the mandate given by Stationery Stores Football Club Limited (RC 146339) on March 10 2014.
“Messrs Eliashib Ime-James and Yomi Opakunle are both National President and National Secretary of the Trust respectively as elected by members of the Stationery Stores Supporters Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited.
“They, as well as all members of the Trust, are exercising their freedom to associate, hold and express opinion as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999).
“That our publicly-expressed support for the positions of His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, Governor Akinwumi Ambode, and the Honourable Minister of Youth & Sports, Federal Government of Nigeria, Comrade Solomon Dalung, on the need for legacy clubs like Stationery Stores FC to return to action was in good faith and devoid of any intention to obtain pecuniary gain.
“These two well-respected citizens gave a very high profile support to our efforts, over the past 10 years and at great personal cost to us, to see the return of Stationery Stores FC.
“We state categorically that the Trust has never collected money from people under any false pretence. Indeed, SSST only began the processing of the Directorate of Cooperatives-sanction opening of bank account upon receipt of its Registration Certificate in early February 2017 from the Directorate and which is yet to be concluded.
“SSST at the Directorate of Cooperatives-directed Pre-Registration General Meeting, passed a resolution that all transactions of the Trust including the yet-to-commence mandatory monthly savings, must be cashless and done only through bank transactions.
“It has so far organised two events viz. A “Supporters’ Day” at which it honoured some supporters, former administrators and coaches, including the former 1st civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, the doyen of Sports Journalism & Stationery Stores FC’s 1st Team Manager – Pa Peter Osugo a.k.a. PECOS and Mr. Shola Idowu a.k.a. Mr. Anonymous, amongst many others (in October 2016); as well as the presentation of Awards to seven former players who were part of the all-conquering 1992 set of Stationery Stores FC coached by the Late Abdulahi Bebe (January 2017).
“These events were personally funded by SSST EXCO Members. Outside of these two, the Supporters Trust has not undertaken any project nor has it solicited money from anyone. Furthermore, these two events were not only well-attended but widely publicised in the domestic news media and internationally, with support from all those interested in seeing that the permanent return of Stationery Stores FC becomes a reality.
“The Stationery Stores Supporters Trust has never gathered players as it is not a football club and does not own any football club. It has no intention of taking over Stationery Stores FC as that is not part of its aims and it is not a shareholder of SSFC.
“It is simply an organised platform for supporting the owners of the Club in ensuring not only the return, but the viability of the Club and ensuring that supporters have a formal say in efforts to move the club forward.
“It is clear that Mr. Abayomi Banire’s reported allegations are not only false and malicious, but are calculated to destabilise efforts by interested supporters to better organise themselves.
“It sought to impugn the character, credibility, image and reputation of Eliashib Ime-James and Yomi Opakunle —two key actors of the Trust, in a futile attempt to destroy a worthy and completely new approach to organising supporters in Nigeria and we wholeheartedly condemn it.
“Furthermore, we also consider Mr. Banire’s reported Press Release to be an emerging but clearly futile effort to frustrate the permanent return and viability of Stationery Stores FC.
“Given the fate that has befallen the club in recent times and the spirited effort of the Adebajo family and many people of goodwill to ensure the existence of a strong and viable Stationery Stores FC, this dangerous recourse to blackmail and libel by the said Mr. Banire and his sponsors should be condemned by all well-meaning supporters of our great club and indeed by all sports lovers.
“In conclusion, we are in support of all legitimate efforts being considered by our two Executive Committee members to redress the damage to their image, credibility and reputation and will do everything in our power to support them in doing so.