More Troubles For Pinnick, Others As EFCC Investigates NFF’s Stolen Sponsorship Money
By Amaechi Agbo
Perhaps when Anezi Okoro came out with his classic novel, One week, One Trouble, in which the story of an African village community with the primary school as its focus; a down to earth story where most people are part-hero and part-villain; and where at a time of transition, life swirls around the village school and everyone is caught in its web or brushed by the swirl, he never knew such could play out in the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, under the leadership of Amaju Pinnick, Best Choice Sports Editor, Amaechi Agbo, writes.
Since Pinnick assumed office in 2014 after a disputed election, and went on to be re-elected after another controversial election in Kasina State, in 2018, it does appear that the case of financial mismanagement against the Delta State born administrator could be likened to Anezi Okoro’s novel.
Take it or leave it, Pinnick has constantly divided opinions on how he has been able to develop football in the country for the past five years he had led the Glass House, Nigeria’s Seat of football power. Many believe he had done well but another school of thought says the contrary.
But if there must been anything not to be taken away from Pinnick and his top officials – inner caucus if you like – it is the fact that they have more criminal cases bothering on financial misappropriation to answer than they have won trophies for the country since the Board came on board.
Hot on the grill is the case involving embezzlement of billions of naira FIFA grants meant for football development which the NFF under Pinnick has not been accounted for, a case the Special Presidential Investigative Panel, SPIP took Pinnick and other top NFF officials to court. The case is scheduled for hearing on 26th of this month.
Then is the case Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC preferred against the NFF leadership and now a new case.
These are outside the 2014 election dispute between Pinnick and his erstwhile friend Chris Giwa, a case that went to Supreme Court although lying low for now.
The latest investigation comes on the back of a separate case brought EFCC and one by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel.
The latest wide-ranging investigation is looking into fraud allegations over how sponsorship money meant for the development of football in the country has been stolen.
Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has confirmed it is investigating top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation for allegations of fraud.
There are several cases of fraud brought before the commission, which it is investigating, with the latest being allegations over how sponsorship money meant for the development of football in the country has been stolen.
“What I can confirm is that officials of the Nigeria Football Federation are being investigated by the agency,” EFCC spokesperson, Wlison Uwujaren, told BBC Sport.
The investigation is focusing on money generated from the NFF’s official sponsors, domestic league’s television sponsorship and payments from a former kit supplier for all the national teams, BBC Sport understands.
It also focus on funds provided by federal and state government for friendly matches involving the Super Eagles and the misappropriation of about $2.7m from the Financial Assistance Programme of football’s world governing body, FIFA.
In May, the NFF president Amaju Pinnick told the BBC that he and four other top officials were being “victimised” and denied any wrongdoing over the alleged misappropriation of funds case brought by the SPIP for the recovery of public property.
Meanwhile, the NFF and EFCC are also awaiting a legal judgement on the second case at the Federal High Court in the capital Abuja.
That corruption trial involved three NFF accounts staff – director of finance, Christopher Andekin; head of finance and accounts Jafaru Mamza and Rajan Zaka, a cashier.
The trio are standing trial for allegedly embezzling US$9.5m being grants from FIFA and CAF for the development of football in Nigeria.
The accused trio have been arraigned and pleaded not guilty.
The EFCC has since filed an amendment for Pinnick and general secretary Muhamed Sanusi to be charged along with the trio already in court in Abuja. The matter has since been adjourned and no date has been fixed for ruling.
It is worthy of note that NFF president Amaju Pinnick has now withdrawn from public eye since his removal as a vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). His deputy, Seyi Akinwunmi is acting as president.
With additional agency report