The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has denied reports that the Federal Government has filed any charges against its leadership, especially Amaju Pinnick, Seyi Akinwunmi, Shehu Dikko, Ahmed Fresh and Mohammed Sanusi.
The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property led by Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla had yesterday filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja over an alleged misappropriation of $8, 400 said to have been paid by FIFA to the NFF.
In a 17-count charge, marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019, filed before the Federal High Court, the money was said to have been paid by FIFA to the NFF as appearance fees in the group stage of the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Dr. Celsius Ukpong signed the charge, filed by SPIRPP on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. The prosecution accused the defendants of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, theft, and criminal misappropriation in respect of their handling of the $8,400 and N4 billion belonging to the NFF.
The offences were said to be contrary to and punishable under various provisions of the Penal Code (Cap 105) LFN.
In a swift reaction, the NFF in a statement issued by Chairman, NFF Media and Publicity Committee, Suleman Yahaya Kwade, he described the action of the SPIRPP as malicious and desperate efforts to bring the leadership of the NFF down. He drew the attention of the public to a pending court case filled by the NFF against the SPIRPP.
“The orchestrated media blitz about the existence of such charges is nothing but the desperate and malicious efforts of the Chief Okoi Obono-Obla led SPIP to lend itself as an instrument of cheap blackmail in the fight for the political leadership of NFF. Currently pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja is Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/17/2019 filed by NFF against SPIP and three others, including Chief Obono-Obla himself. NFF in the suit is challenging the competence of SPIP under the law to purport to investigate or prosecute NFF or its leadership. When the matter came up for hearing on April 20, 2019, Barrister Celsus Ukpong, the lawyer representing SPIP wrote a letter applying for an adjournment of the matter, as he could not appear in court for official reasons. The suit was accordingly adjourned to May 13, 2019 for definite hearing.
“It should now be clear to all that the SPIP under Chief Obono-Obla is acting in contempt of the laws and courts of Nigeria. Even more deplorable is the fact that its legal representatives will employ deception in dealing with the court of law regarding a suit to which it is a party and fully represented in court.
“The determination of SPIP and Chief Okono-Obla to act unlawfully and in undisguised bias against NFF and its leadership is well documented and forms the basis of NFF’s petition to the Hon. Attorney-General and Minister of Justice since January 2019, as well joining the office of the Hon. Attorney-General in all the suits we have filed against SPIP. We are confident that this regrettable matter will be appropriately dealt with in the due course,” the statement added.
Kwade also noted that the case filled by SPIP is frivolous and totally baseless, which was aimed at deceiving the public, stating that the NFF had always shown transparency in its financial dealings.
“NFF under Amaju Pinnick had since 2014, kept true financial records of NFF Funds as audited by its external auditors; PwC (PrieceWaterHouseCoopers) and had taken the extra step of publishing the audited accounts in national newspapers for public consumption and records.
“Furthermore, FIFA has consistently given a clean bill of health to NFF regarding its management of FIFA funds. FIFA has never alleged any fraud or misappropriation of its resources or funds made available to NFF and has continued to engage the NFF in its normal operational transactions”.