NFF denies criminal charges against Pinnick, other senior executives

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has once again cried out that it is being blackmailed about an alleged legal charges filed against its leadership by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Some media outfits had reported that the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick, and four other officers of the federation have been charged by the Federal Government with an alleged misappropriation of $8,400 said to have been paid by FIFA to the NFF and also “moving dishonestly and intentionally the sum of about N4bn” belonging to the NFF without the consent of the NFF.

The charges are allegedly targeted at Amaju Melvin Pinnick, the NFF President; Seyi Akinwunmi, the 1st Vice President; Shehu Dikko, the 2nd Vice president; Ahmed Yusuff aka ‘Fresh’ and Mohammed Sanusi, the General Secretary of the NFF.

According to a statement issued by the football federation, “NFF denies that FG has filed any such charges.

“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.

The NFF stated that 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.

According to the statement signed by Dr. Suleman Yahaya Kwade, the Chairman, NFF Media and Publicity Committee, “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 is an issue that must befuddle the mind and be of great concern to all Nigerians that the same SPIP 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.

“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.

“We wish to state categorically that the charges filed by SPIP are frivolous and totally baseless.

“They are aimed only at scandalising the NFF and its leadership and nothing more, in order to mislead the unwary and uninformed.

“This is evident from the great facility with which the news of the charges which were registered at the court’s registry today, May 7, 2019, have been widely disseminated by SPIP and its collaborators.

“For instance, SPIP alleges that the leadership of NFF moved N4Billion (Four Billion Naira) from NFF on 3 November 2018.

“The maliciousness and falsity of this charge is established by the fact that the alleged sum is about four times the 2018 NFF Appropriation in the FGN budget as approved by the National Assembly, which in total was N1.14 Billion (One Billion, One Hundred and Fourteen Million Naira), out of which only about N700m (Seven Hundred Million Naira) was cash-backed for the entire 2018 financial year.

“It is also on record that since June 2018 till date NFF has only received N110m (One Hundred and Ten Million Naira only) from FGN (which was received only in February, 2019).

“This is in spite of the fact that NFF has prosecuted about 30 international matches involving the various national teams, (Super Eagles, Falcons, U23 Men Team, U20 Boys, U17 Eaglets, U20 Girls (Falconets), Supersand Eagles etc), requiring the NFF to raise funds independently to supplement the funds from the FGN.

“Another example of the desperation and wickedness motivating these false allegations is the SPIP allegation that, in 2014 “during the FIFA World Cup at Abuja”, FIFA appearance fees paid by FIFA was converted to personal use.

“This is despite the fact that there was no FIFA World Cup in Abuja in 2014, a Unclad fact known to the whole world.

“The consuming determination to achieve the goal of slandering the NFF and smearing the reputation of its leadership has made these elements blind to simple facts and reckless.

“We wish to state that none of the persons in the leadership of NFF or Executive Committee are signatories or in control of NFF accounts as those roles are exclusively reserved and performed by directors and personnel appointed by FGN from the offices of the Accountant-General of the Federation and Auditor-General of the Federation.

“Also, NFF under Amaju Pinnick, has since 2014, kept true financial records of NFF Funds as audited by its external auditors PwC (PrieceWaterHouseCoopers) and has 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.

“It is important, and interesting, to note that the proposed list of witnesses of SPIP consists entirely of the names of the same persons who have publicly been engaged in fighting the duly elected leadership of NFF, including the forceful takeover of the NFF office in July 2018, the filing of multiple suits to stop the NFF elections of September 20, 2018 in Katsina and the presentation of the same false petitions to all the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.

“This should say a lot about these false allegations and the manner of persons actively working in cahoots with Chief Obon-Obla led SPIP to discredit the NFF and its leadership evidently to achieve what they failed to do through the ballot box – which is to effect a change of leadership in in the NFF.

“However, it is much to be regretted that these elements have also sought to embarrass our sponsors, partners and consultants in their unholy and desperate gambit to achieve their condemnable efforts to bring NFF and its leadership into public disrepute having failed in all their machinations to take over its leadership.

“We wish to assure that our legal team is fully engaged with this matter in order to defeat these baseless and politically motivated attack on the NFF and its leadership.

“We are confident that at the end of the day the truth will prevail, this mission of destruction will fail and Nigeria football will triumph over this conspiracy. “

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