By Albert Akota
A federal High Courat sitting in Abuja has dismissed the corruption charge filed against leaders of the Nigeria Football Federation, including its President, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, by the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel, SPIP.
The panel, headed by Okon Obono-Obla who is now on the run to avoid prosecution by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, ICPC had filed a 16 –count charge against Pinnick, Seyi Akinwunmi (1st Vice President), Shehu Dikko (2nd Vice President), Mohammed Sanusi (General Secretary) and Ahmed Yusuf (Executive Committee member) with wild claims of alleged corruption against the men, and even subjected them to extensive media trial at home and abroad.
Among the counts in the charge were misappropriation of the sums of $8.4million and N4billion, conflict of interest and non-declaration of assets.
On Tuesday, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu dismissed the entire case with all 16 charges, and acquitted the NFF chieftains in consideration of the submission of the defence and the prosecution and in line with the rules of administration of criminal justice.
The clean bill is a confirmation of the position of the NFF that that its leaders were being victimised by some individuals, simply on a mission of vendetta.
At the court yesterday, a counsel from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, which had taken over the case, said it could not proceed with the matter as the proof of evidence could not sustain the charges.
NFF’s counsel adduced reasons why the charges could not be sustained:
“The SPIP Investigation Report dated April 30, 2019 filed in the Honourable Court as Exhibit 7 in the Proof of Evidence and its Findings as contained in pages 13 to 21 cleared the NFF officials of all allegations, based on the petition investigated by the Panel.”
“A review of the certified true copy of the NFF Bank account with the Central Bank of Nigeria found that there was no transaction of N4Billion or any amount whatsoever on November 3, 2018 as alleged in the charges filed by SPIP.
It was also found that the total inflow into the said NFF account for the whole of 2018 is far less than N1billion, confirming that the alleged N4billion never existed anywhere in the first instance.
The Defence Counsel, however, applied to the court to dismiss the charges and also discharge and acquit the NFF chieftains, since the proof of evidence could not sustain the charges, which AGF office counsel did not object.
The judge then ruled that in view of these facts, she had no option than to discharge and acquit the defendants on all counts.