NFF boss, Amaju Pinnick, four others get bench warrants
President unaware of Super Eagles’ unpaid allowances
The Federal High Court, Abuja has issued a bench warrant against the president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick.
It also ordered the arrest of four other officials of the federation that were accused of misappropriation of funds belonging to the football body.
The presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, yesterday gave the order after the case was called and the defendants were absent in court.
To be arrested alongside the NFF boss are the secretary, Sunusi Mohammed; first vice president, Seyi Akinwumi; second vice president, Shehu Dikko; and an executive member, Yusuff Fresh.
The Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP) had, in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019, filed a 17-count charge before the court early this year.
The officials were accused of allegedly misappropriating $8,400,000 said to have been paid by the world football governing body, FIFA, to the NFF as appearance fees in the group stage of the Russia 2018 World Cup.
The judge gave the order for their arrest upon an oral application by the prosecution counsel, Celcius Ukpong.
The defendants were also accused of “moving dishonestly and intentionally the sum of about N4 billion” belonging to the NFF without the consent of the organisation.
The officials had denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the case was baseless, mere persecution and an abuse of court process, as the federation had a pending matter in same court challenging SPIP’s jurisdiction.
The NFF, in a statement, however said it had since petitioned the “Office of the Attorney General of the Federation for an independent review, for which the Office of the AGF has directed the SPIP to submit the files for review.”
The court, it was learnt, adjourned to September 26,2019 to entertain the substantive matter.
However, President Buhari has expressed surprise over the failure of NFF officials to pay the Super Eagles their match allowances at the ongoing African Nations Cup in Egypt.
The senior national team, it would be recalled, was beaten2-0 by tournament’s debutants, Madagascar on Sunday.
Speaking to newsmen after meeting with President Buhari in Aso Rock, Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong and member of the Federal Government delegation to the soccer fiesta said he was at the Villa to brief the Nigerian leader on the challenges faced by the Eagles.