$9.5 Million FIFA Grant Fraud: Court Frowns At Pinnick, Others’ Delay Tactics
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By Our Correspondent
An Abuja Federal High Court Thursday frowned at the delayed tactics deployed by Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick and other officials of the federation on the alleged mismanagement of the sum of nine million, five hundred thousand ($9.5) US dollars FIFA grant given to the federation for the 2018 Russia World Cup, Bestchoicesports.com.ng can report authoritatively.
When the suit filed by the nation’s anti-graft agency, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC came up for hearing Thursday, the accused persons were found not to be in court.
Rather they argued through their counsel that they had sent in a letter requesting the court to adjourn the case pending when the accused persons were able to procure court evidences that the case being tried at the High court was also ongoing at a customary court.
Sequel to this, the judge, obliged them the request but warned them against further waste of the honourable court’s time.
Speaking on the development, counsel to EFCC, Barrister Steve Odaise, said the letter requesting for adjournment was an affront on the court but added that the commission will not relent in pursuing the case.
“The NFF sent in a letter seeking for adjournment, the court considered it an affront because it did not address the issue.
“However, the court conceded to enable the prosecution file further counter affidavit because it is normal for us to react. So, we indulge them for us to react to that.
“In my opinion, it is judicial time buying and wasting as the issues as canvassed by both defendants and prosecution is well-known to law. The prosecution have liberty to amend the charge at anytime. So, seeking adjournment and asking for more time is judicial time buying,” he concluded.
The case was adjourned till June 27, 2019.
It could be recalled that an FCT High Court , Maitama, last month ordered the Nigeria Football Federation to produce a copy of the Magistrates ‘ charge sheet against
Amaju Pinnick and Dr Muhammed Sanusi in the alleged 9.5 million dollars FIFA grant scam .
Justice Peter Affen gave the order after NFF lawyer Mr Festus Ukpe told the court that the same matter was pending at a magistrate court against Pinnick and Sanusi .
The judge demanded the copy of the charge before the magistrate court to avoid abuse of court processes.
Affen further ordered Ukpe to file a further affidavit before May 30 showing that the case was pending in such court .
He then adjourned until May 30 for hearing, unfortunately on Thursday, the accused persons applied for longer time to produce the charge sheet.
EFCC joined the duo, Amaju Pinnick , NFF president and Dr Muhammad Sanusi , General Secretary in the charge .
Those standing trial earlier are Christopher Andekin, NFF Director of Administration and Finance , Reagan Zaka , Cashier and Fadanari Mamza, Head , Finance and Account Department.
They were dragged to the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on five counts of criminal conspiracy , breach of trust and misappropriation.
The EFCC , through its counsel , Mr Steve Odiase told the court that the three defendants conspired between January 8 and January 26 , 2015 , to commit the offences, contrary to Section 97 of Penal Code .
Odiase alleged that Andekin was entrusted with money meant for the development of football in Nigeria , a grant from the Federation of International Football Association .
He said that Andekin however fraudulently diverted 1 .3 million dollars from the NFF domiciliary account with Zenith Bank , an act that is contrary to section 311 of the Penal Code .
He further alleged that Zaka on his part, fraudulently diverted 7 . 2 million dollars grant from FIFA for development of football in Nigeria while Mamza diverted 2 . 3 million dollars.
The defendants all pleaded not guilty to the charge .