The corruption trial of top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) led by Amaju Melvin Pinnick will open in Abuja on May 28, officials have disclosed.
The other officials are vice presidents Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko, executive committee member Ahmed Yusuf ‘Fresh’ as well as general secretary Mohammed Sanusi.
“The NFF officials who have been investigated by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property will be arraigned before the honourable Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja on May 28,” announced SPIP counsel Celsus Ukpong.
The SPIP headed by Okoi Obono-Obla has filed a 17-count charge against the NFF chieftains ranging from failure to declare their assets to conflict of interest and embezzlement of $8.4 million prize money paid Nigeria by FIFA for the country’s participation at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
On May 13, the Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Ojukwu ruled that SPIP is within its responsibilities to arrest and prosecute the top NFF officials for alleged corruption.
The NFF officials had sought an interlocutory injunction to stop the anti-graft agency from suing them.
Three other NFF officials have also been sued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged theft of over $10 million being FIFA and CAF grants.
The case will continue on May 30 in Abuja.
Meanwhile, a cross-section of close followers of Nigeria football has again commended the doggedness with which Obla has gone about his duties despite pressures and pleas from “powerful” Nigerians to stop this investigation.
“Obla is one man who has faithfully discharged his duty with sincerity and total commitment for the on-going war against corruption,” a top official informed SCORENigeria
“President Muhammadu Buhari must be proud of how this man has taken head-on the fight against corruption that has put this country and its people down for so many years.
“Obla has justified the confidence the President has in him by how professional he has been to stop the rut in the administration of football in Nigeria.”
Stakeholders have also commended the renewed will to fight corruption in the sports sector after initial reluctance to do so previously.
By Samm Audu