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NFF Chieftains Calls for Unity Following Court Victory

Following Tuesday’s suspension of the trial involving NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, and four others Pinnick has urged stakeholders to put aside their differences and work together ‘towards repositioning Nigerian football’

In a statement on the court decision on Tuesday, the NFF said the Nigerian government withdrew the charges “because the proof of evidence could not sustain the charge.”

It added that the decision of the court following the federal government’s withdrawal of its case was to “discharge and acquit the defendants.”

The NFF President Pinnick while reacting to DiegwuSports on the development said:

“We have been vindicated, all we have ever disired is the best to Nigerian football and I can only thank the Almighty God for vindicating us. In the end Football is the winner and I hope now we can all join hands together and move towards re-positioning Nigerian Football.” an emotional Pinick told DiegwuSports.

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Also reacting to the news was 2nd Vice President and LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko who on his own was pleased that this is all over. Dikko also thanked Nigerians for their support and prayers.

‘I am happy and thankful to God that all this is finally over. I was very difficult for most of us and our families but its all over.I want to thank all Nigerians for their support, their prayers. Now we can all join hands together and continue our strive to reposition Nigerian Football.’ Dikko told DiegwuSports.

As for the General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, he revealed that he was never in doubt that Justice will prevail as the records were clear for everyone to see.

“I am indeed happy that justice has prevailed but I must say that I always had faith that this day will come because the records and evidences were so clear for everyone to see. I want to thank Nigerians for their support and I call on stakeholders to come together so that we can move Nigeria football forward” Sanusi told DiegwuSports

The Story So Far

The federal government had in May arraigned Mr Pinnick and four others on allegations they diverted $8.45 million, which was given to the NFF as fees for appearing at the last Russia 2018 World Cup.

The five officials, including the NFF Secretary, Sunusi Mohammed; the 1st Vice-President, Seyi Akinwumi; the 2nd Vice-President, Shehu Dikko and an Executive member, Yusuff Fresh, were also accused of misappropriating N4 billion without the approval of the NFF.

They were also alleged to have contravened the law by failing to declare their assets.

But following an application to withdraw the charges on Tuesday, the court presided over by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu struck out the case, based on the provisions of section 355 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, a lawyer for the defence team, Mohammed Katu, told journalists after the hearing.

The section provides that: “Where a complainant at any time before a final order is made in a case, satisfies the court that there are sufficient grounds for permitting him to withdraw his complaint, the court may permit him to withdraw the complaint and shall thereupon acquit the defendant”

In its communiqué, the NFF described the decision of the court as a clean bill issued to its president and the other defendants.

The statement included further explanation by the defence lawyer, Mr Katu on what transpired in court.

“Defence Counsel, Barrister Sani Katu, put the issues in perspective: “The matter was adjourned till today to allow time for investigation as to whether the defendants should be arraigned or not by the Office of the Attorney General which had taken over the matter. The Office of the Attorney General went and investigated the matter and discovered that the proof of evidence could not sustain the charges. On that basis, the Office of the AGF applied to withdraw the charges and the consequence is that the defendants should be discharged and acquitted from all 16 charges, to which the court agreed.”

The NFF in its statement also explained that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation had requested to take over a similar prosecution of the defendants by anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“Only last month, a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to remove the names of Pinnick and Sanusi from the witnesses’ category and add them to the list of accused persons in a case at the FCT High Court over the same $8.4million FIFA Grant was put on hold after the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation submitted that it was taking over the case with a view to ascertaining its validity, seeing that same persons were being charged spuriously in different courts and/or investigated by several agencies over the same allegations hewed out of petitions by the same individuals.”

Mr Pinnick and his co-accused were arraigned by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP).

The panel, then led by Okoi Obono-Obla, has since been dissolved by President Muhammadu Buhari. Mr Obono-Obla is himself wanted for allegedly forging a WAEC certificate.

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