BANNED former Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) director Enock Ikope has described the decision to expel him from the sport for 10 years as a travesty of justice, saying the investigation of the International Cricket Council (ICC) was prejudiced and the verdict pre-determined.
By Enock Muchinjo
The ICC had initially intended to investigate Ikope over his suspected links to a match-fixing approach made to former Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer in October 2017, but ended up charging the former ZC board member for failure to cooperate with investigations after he refused to immediately hand over his mobile phone to the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of the international governing body.
Ikope claims the ICC investigation team had ambushed him while he was on study leave at a university in Masvingo, where the ACU met him to “talk about Rajan Nayer”, his colleague who was being probed for making a $30 000 offer to Cremer to throw games during the West Indies’ tour of Zimbabwe in 2017.
Rajan, a former ZC director who was in charge of marketing at the Harare Metropolitan Cricket Association (HMCA) chaired by Ikope, has since been slapped with a 20-year ban by the ICC.
While Nayer pleaded guilty to his charge, Ikope has vehemently denied his involvement in any fixing attempt, vowing to fight the ban.
“This is a clear travesty of justice,” Ikope told IndependentSport. “I was not anywhere near what they were investigating. I’m shocked that an organisation like ICC with its anti-corruption general manager (Alex Marshall) who is a former senior British police officer and former CEO of the College of Policing, can use perception to investigate people. Even if you read the ruling, it never raise the first-line charge, only the second-line charge, which is my refusal to be subjected to Gestapo-style investigation.”
Ikope said he had refused to surrender his phone in the absence of his lawyer, and also to protect his privacy.
He later on handed over the phone, but not before he had deleted some “private” contents on it, some which he claimed belonged to Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
“It was my legal right to discuss with my legal counsel. They (ACU) denied me the chance to even call anyone because they had confiscated my phone, which I had to forcibly repossess. The attitude of Alex Marshall was of a desperate new GM who had promised to deliver, so he had to deliver, by hook or crook. Quite frankly, I’m not remorseful at all because I did nothing wrong. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
“I did not refuse to cooperate, that’s why I allowed them to come to Masvingo to meet me. I accorded them time until the tables turned on me. When they mentioned that I was under investigation that’s when they took my phone. I then reminded them that the email sent to me by them prior had requested a meeting to talk about Rajan. So when I became the subject matter, I refused to go ahead with the meeting in the absence of my lawyer, and I repossessed my phone. I considered that to be legal rights violation. I will not apologise for what I did; everything I did was above board. I found the attitude of the ACU to be condescending. It’s funny that the real masterminds of match-fixing are roaming the streets freely. Their phones are not taken. Is there justice at the ICC? When they saw me they saw Kunta Kinte, a slave and a person with no rights.”
Ikope said he had told the ACU that under Zimbabwean law, no one had a right to seize people’s private property.
The ICC had not responded to questions sent to them on Tuesday requesting for a reaction to Ikope’s allegations of unfair hearing, but this newspaper has the full ICC report of how investigations were conducted, and the ruling.
In reaching the verdict, the ICC said it was unequivocal that Ikope had transgressed and that no violations had been made in investigation.
“An international sports federation has to fight the insidious threat of match-fixing without the coercive powers of the state to assist it in investigating and uncovering corrupt conduct,” reads the ruling.
“That justifies imposing a positive obligation on participants to co-operate with investigations by the federation into possible wrongdoing, including an obligation to turn over a phone immediately upon demand, so that the investigators can examine for any potential evidence. None of the participants’ rights, whether a constitutional right to privacy or otherwise, are breached thereby.”