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Police ought to end this mess in soccer

10th March 2012
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Editorial cartoon

The Tanzania Football Federation has unveiled shocking allegations against former Football Association of Tanzania secretary general Michael Wambura which they said render him ineligible to contest for leadership in the country’s soccer.

The allegations were first made public ahead of federation’s 2008 elections, and handed over to police authorities for investigations.

Deogratius Lyatto, who chairs TFF’s electoral committee, released a lengthy report of how Wambura was allegedly involved in massive embezzlement of funds.

Following the allegations, the former FAT executive was and remains barred from contesting in any election conducted under the auspices of the federation.

It is four years now since TFF handed over to the police the documents and other evidence relevant to the case involving Wambura.

It is hard to believe that police authorities have not made any enough progress in investigating these serious allegations to proceed with prosecution or drop the matter altogether.

It is in the interest of the law-enforcement agents to be transparent about how far they have gone in connection with investigation into the allegations or cite any stumbling blocks they have come across.

We say so because what Wambura is complaining that he is unfairly denied his constitutional rights on the basis of mere allegations. It is a typical case of justice delayed is justice denied.

We are not trying to argue the case for Wambura. If the allegations against him are proved, the law should fall on him like a tonne of bricks; if not, his innocence should be declared.

All we are saying is that the handling of the allegations does not show the police as being keen enough in facilitating the process of ensuring that justice is done and seen to be done.

It is sad that Wambura is being denied some of his basic rights on the strength of mere allegations. In fact, TFF now says the only way for him to clear himself is to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) and win.

TFF ought to feel the need to ensure that the investigations into the allegations make progress, but it absolves itself of any blame in Wambura’s current plight, saying it is the police who are the culprits here in that they are the ones holding a detailed file on the said allegations.

What is more, TFF says it cannot set aside the barring of Wambura from contesting any post unless he is cleared of the allegations against him.

It should be emphasized that the accusations levelled against Wambura remain mere allegations unless verified through the legal process.

The only way by which the police can prove that they are not under any undue influence in the handling of the investigations is to tell the public and the country’s soccer fraternity how far they have gone with investigations in the last four years.

They need to act fast and take the case to court or declare that, after their intensive investigations, they found that the allegations against Wambura are without a grain of truth.

Be it as it may, the public needs a definitive statement from the police on the issue – and the sooner this is done, the better.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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