Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL side Heartland, have been dragged to an Owerri High Court by Danish Sportswear giants, Select/ Boutique, in conjunction with a former Super Eagles winger, Ifeanyi Ekwueme’s Emeks Sports over an alleged N21.8m debt, Completesports.com reports.
The complainants are demanding the settlement of the N21.8m debt being the cost of sports kits supplied to the club.
They are also asking the Imo State High Court in Owerri to compel the club to pay them N100m as general damages suffered following the respondent’s failure to pay.
The suit was filed by the complainants on October 9, 2021, through Collins Iwuorie & Associates, claiming that Heartland FC are owing Select and Emeks Sports N21.8 million being the cost of for supply of football kits from 2019 till date.
Ekwueme, 42, played for Nigeria 14 times during his illustrious career that was later blighted by injuries.
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He had a brief managerial spell at the same Heartland FC from 2019 to 2021 in the capacity of Assistant Sporting Director during the reign of the former boss, Barrister Charles Ezekwem as Chairman.
Ekwueme is Select Sports’ sole representative in Africa. He is also the Managing Director of Emeks Sports Limited.
He told Completesports.com that all efforts made by them for Heartland to pay proved abortive.
“Under the circumstance, we had no alternative than to approach the court in a bid to recover our money.
So, We have finally sued Heartland for breach of contract”, Ekwueme Ekwueme told Completesports.com.
“The police will also sue them for criminal breach of contract.
“This matter had been previously reported to Salisu Abubakar, Chief Operating Officer of the League Management Company, LMC, and as a result, Heartland were fined N1 million for breach of dressing code during a league match against MFM FC earlier in the year.
“This is because they dressed in Puma jerseys instead of Select outfit with whom they had an existing three-year kitting contract.
“We have also sent copies of the suit letter to the NFF which is expected to be forwarded to CAF and FIFA court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS.
“This matter was also reported to the IMO FA, whose chairman, Amanze Uchegbulam advised Heartland that they should pay me before the case will get worse, but they ignored him.
Ekwueme added: “Heartland should however rest assured that we are going to do everything within the ambit of the law, to ensure we recover our money from them.
“It’s ridiculous that we have a three-year contract with them which was signed and approved by the then General Manager (Ifeanyi Chukwudi) who managed the club week in, week out and yet their legal adviser is claiming the contract was not approved by Heartland board.
“We have all the necessary documents as well as copies of an existing contract with Heartland to tender as evidence to prove our transactions and we are looking forward to a fair hearing from the court as soon as possible”.
The case would be due for hearing before Hon. Justice T.E. Chukwuemeka Chikeka on December 17, 2021, to charges of breach of contract and Heartland FC could cough out a whopping sum of N100 million if found guilty by the court.
Completesports.com could not reach Heartland Acting General Manager, Promise Nwachukwu, but an official of the club who pleaded not to be named in print for fear of victimisation described the feud as ‘unfortunate’.
“No doubt, we had a jersey endorsement contract with Select through Emeks Sports, but it’s rather unfortunate things are turning out this way”, the source lamented.
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