NFF Shatters Over Criminal Charges Against Pinnick, Others

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has denied allegations of criminal conspiracy and corruption against its headship, Amaju Pinnick and four other persons.

Pinnick, who doubles as a vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and a strong ally of FIFA president, Gianni Infantino has been a constant figure in controversy.

The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property had on Tuesday filed a suit at the federal High Court in Abuja, against Pinnick, for alleged mismanagement of an $8,400 grant from FIFA to NFF as appearance fees during the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Named with Pinnick in the charge, were NFF Secretary Sunusi Mohammed, 1st Vice-President Seyi Akinwumi, 2nd Vice-President Shehu Dikko and chairman technical and development committee of NFF, Ahmed Yusuf Fresh.

In a 17-count charge, marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday, the money was said to have been paid by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to the NFF as appearance fees in the group stage of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

The charge, filed by SPIRPP on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, was signed by Dr Celsius Ukpong.

The prosecution accused the defendants of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, theft and criminal misappropriation.

Reacting to allegation, NFF in a statement by its chairman, Media and Publicity Committee, Hon. Suleiman Yahaya Kwande, described the action of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel (SPIP) as malicious and desperate moves to lend itself as an instrument of cheap blackmail in the fight for the political leadership of NFF.

Kwande drew the attention of the public to a pending court case initiated by the NFF against the SPIRPP.

NFF states that 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 Special Presidential Investigative Panel (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 SPIRPP and three others, including Chief Obono-Obla himself.

NFF in the suit is challenging the competence of SPIRPP 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 SPIRPP 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 is an issue that must befuddle the mind and be of great concern to all Nigerians that the same SPIRPP should, against the foregoing background then proceed to allegedly file charges in the name of the FGN before the same Federal High Court while the pending suit filed by NFF against it is yet to be determined,” Kwande said.

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