By Sylvanus Ofekun
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the federal high court on Tuesday discharged and acquitted the 5 accused NFF officials.She dismissed the entire case with all 16 charges, and acquitted the NFF chieftains in consideration of the submission of the defence and the prosecution and in line with the rules of administration of criminal justice
A welcome development by some persons while others had some reservations about the prosecution counsel.
federal government had in May through the disbanded SPIP headed by Oko
Obono Obla arraigned Mr Pinnick and four others on allegations they
diverted $8.45 million, which was given to the NFF as fees for appearing
at the last Russia 2018 World Cup.
The five officials, including
the NFF President,Amaju Pinnick,the NFF Secretary, Sunusi Mohammed; the
1st Vice-President, Seyi Akinwumi; the 2nd Vice-President, Shehu Dikko
and an Executive member, Yusuff Fresh, were also accused of
misappropriating N4 billion without the approval of the NFF.
They were also alleged to have contravened the law by failing to declare their assets.
NFF in its statement by the Director of Communications,Ademola Olajire
explained that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation had
requested to take over a similar prosecution of the defendants by
anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
last month, a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,
EFCC to remove the names of Pinnick and Sanusi from the witnesses’
category and add them to the list of accused persons in a case at the
FCT High Court over the same $8.4million FIFA Grant was put on hold
after the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation submitted
that it was taking over the case with a view to ascertaining its
validity, seeing that same persons were being charged spuriously in
different courts and/or investigated by several agencies over the same
allegations hewed out of petitions by the same individuals.” Olajire
said in a statement.
Meanwhile,a group, Concerned Football Patriots (CFP), has alleged that the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, is making frantic efforts to shield the President of Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, and other accused officials from being prosecuted for the mismanagement of $9.5m FIFA grant.
The group raised the alarm through its Coordinator, Jonas Ahmed.
AGF has shown that he is insensitive to the plight of the youth in this
country whose future has been mortgaged due to the unconscionable
looting of the treasury of NFF by those in-charge of its affairs. The
AGF, who is supposed to be the legal arrowhead in the fight against
corruption that will liberate the country from poverty, is sadly the one
fighting with zeal and determination to shield NFF officials that have
already been investigated and charged by the anti-corruption agencies of
the government.”Ahmed said.
It is pertinent to burst the
burbles of those celebrating with the acquitted NFF Officials that the
storm is not over yet, there are numerous of petitions at different anti
Those discharged and acquitted yesterday are
still under investigation by the EFCC and ICPC,the later anti graft
agency as seized the properties of these officials.
NFF officials can boast of the strong bond that exist between them and
the Attorney General of the federation,Abubakar Malami SAN.
Section 174 of the 1999 constitution as amended gives the Attorney General the power “to
take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been
instituted by any other authority and persons;and to discontinue at any
stage before judgement.”
A lot of Nigerians have the
insinuation that the fight against corruption is a mare rhythm and blues
song by those in government,which ought to have Nigerians dance to
it.Ironically, corruption have grown with a geometric progression under
FIFA in 2015 indicted the NFF for
misappropriating football development grant and consequently removed
Nigeria from benefiting from the grant.
One will be tempted to ask the following;
What is the interest of AGF by shielding those who are supposed to face trials?
What is the relationship between the AGF and the NFF Secretary, Sunusi Mohammed?
What happened to all the foreign and government funds?
Why is the president so silence about reforming and delivering our football from hijackers?
AGF should allow the ICPC and the EFCC tried the indicted officials in
court without interference,so as to believe that he is with Mr.President
in the fight against corruption.