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Enugu Rangers' ex-coach Imama Amapakabo arrested

Enugu Rangers won the 2018 Aiteo Cup 4-3 on penalties. LMC Media

The Enugu state government have had former Enugu Rangers coach Imama Amapakabo arrested and detained overnight on Wednesday, then taken under guard to the state capital, after allegedly failing to return the club's possessions following his dismissal.

Amapakabo was arrested in Abuja after a tripartite meeting with the club and officials of the LMC's dispute resolution committee where the parties had gone to state their respective cases.

Rangers General Manager Christian Chukwu told KweséESPN that the Enugu State government -- which owns Rangers -- were responsible for the action, and not the club.

"Rangers have nothing to do with this. This is between Imama and the state government," Chukwu said. "He left with the keys to the flat he was given and the official car.

"We wrote to him at least five times to return the property, but he ignored all our letters.

"The government needed their car and apartment back in order to give it to the new coach, and so they took action to recover their property."

Imama admitted that he was holding on to the car but not the keys to the apartment

"I held onto the car because I was waiting for the final settlement and I made that clear to the LMC during our arbitration meeting and they are aware," he told KweséESPN, "but the keys to the apartment are with the estate security."

Amapakabo was fired by the club in April after leading them to their first title in 32 years last season, but is claiming wrongful dismissal and seeking compensation to the tune of N38 million.

That fee includes full payment for the remainder of the contract term, N2 million as two months' salary arrears, N600 000 in outstanding allowances and bonuses, $940 international travelling allowance and N16 million as damages for breach of contract.

In their defence, Rangers claimed that Amapakabo was fired for falling foul of the 'failure to perform' clause of his contract with the club.

However the clause defines 'failure to perform' on the part of the coach as 'inability of the coach to impart football knowledge on the players or several defeats of the team due to his own fault'.

By contrast, the same clause defines 'failure to perform' on the part of the club as 'failure of management to provide adequate motivation including payment of allowances and salaries when due'.

Amapakabo argued that the defeats were not his own fault but that of the club in failing to pay players' wages which led to training boycotts and at least one instance of players refusing to travel for a continental game.

Rangers' lawyers, in their defence, then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot by admitting that while the club did owe players, 'it is not the only club that owe her players in Nigeria.'

The LMC ruled in favour of Amapakabo, finding that there was insufficient proof that he failed to perform, but more than enough -- and on the evidence of the Rangers lawyers' admission -- that the club failed to perform.

"The Club wrongfully terminated the Contract of Service it entered into with the coach," was the LMC's decision.

Rangers were directed to pay the coach his salary arrears, N600 000 in outstanding bonuses and allowances and $940 in international travelling allowances, but the LMC directed both parties to work out an amicable compensation settlement for the wrongful termination of contract.

Rather than settle, however, Rangers had Amapakabo arrested.

The coach is now considering legal action in addition to the compensation claims he is entitled to.

"I have been humiliated and spent a night in police cell just for asking for what is my right. If the LMC do not do something about this, I will have to go to court."

LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko was outraged by the incident.

"This is unacceptable and capable of bringing the league to disrepute," Dikko, who is in Morocco for the CAF Symposium, told KweseESPN, "but I cannot make any comment as yet until I have been fully briefed by the office."