Amaju Pinnick: Undaunted In Service Of Nigerian Football

The task to administer Nigerian football is not for the faint of heart where a total stranger is liable to not only inform you of the precise date and time of your birth but also, narrate the exact style, duration and place your parents used to conceive you.

These strangers, often hate-filled and possessed by a baffling need to derail the inexorable rise of Nigerian football, will go to any lengths to lie, fabricate and conjure evil testimonies.

They might bandy such words as “patriotic”, “the need to ensure accountability” and other such devious platitudes, but the manifestations of their actions and their underhand tactics lay bare their wicked intentions and corrupt goals.

A cursory look through the history of Nigerian football reveals a landscape replete with these agents of destabilisation whose single-minded pursuit to ensure they are remembered in ignominy when the history of Nigerian football is recounted will forever be a thing of wonder.

Having been condemned by a divinely-orchestrated arrangement to be perpetual on-lookers as their betters propel Nigerian football from greatness to greatness, these cantankerous fellows spend their existence scheming to get back at perceived wrongs.

Whether Nigerian football burns in the process matters little to them as they carry on their campaign of blackmail and calumny.

Uneasy they say, lies the head that wears the crown and every administration of the Nigerian Football Federation has had cause to testify to the truism of this aphorism.

Saddled with the statutory responsibility to develop and regulate football in Nigeria, every NFF administration has, sadly, been thwarted at every turn by evil machinations manufactured to hinder and wreck laudable plans for Nigerian football.

No time has this been more apparent than now, with the current board of the federation under the righteous leadership of Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick.

From the moment he emerged NFF president for the first time on 30 September 2014, Mr Pinnick has been the target of a seemingly endless campaign of hate by those who, having lost at the polls, made it their life’s work to effect leadership change by treacherous means.

Ironically, this campaign of hate with no basis in fact, has been masterminded by those whose constitutional remit was to nurture sports and given fuel by mindless zombies being pulled like strings on a puppet.

The orchestrators of this mindless campaign are neither motivated by a love of service nor are they propelled by a bounteous vision for Nigerian football. As their antecedents make clear, these characters will like nothing more than to dip greedy fingers into the NFF coffers.

More Stories:

But just like the great Biblical prophet Daniel, Mr Pinnick has not only continued to humiliate his traducers, he has been repeatedly exonerated by the courts of law often through the unwitting testimony of his staunchest detractors.

Take, for instance, the 16–count charge prepared against Mr Pinnick and four others by the former vehicle of choice for NFF persecution, the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel, SPIP formerly headed by the wanted fugitive from justice Okoi Obono-Obla.

Reporting his findings into claims of alleged corruption surrounding the misappropriation of the sums of $8.4million and N4billion, conflict of interest and non-declaration of assets, the SPIP main investigating czar CSP Bashir M Abubakar completely exonerated the accused persons of every single charge.

But curiously, the panel still forged ahead with charges that bordered on straw clutching and that were rightly seen through and dismissed out of hand by the esteemed Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja High Court on 5 November 2019.

Dismissing all charges against Mr Pinnick and his co-defendants on the recommendation of the Office of the Attorney General which had taken over the case and consolidated it with various NFF-related cases, the learned Honourable Justice Ojukwu made the following observations:

“Today, the prosecution has agreed with the defence counsel that there is a need to dismiss the charge and acquit the Defendants. Of much moment is the fact that the report of the Investigation of the Panel shows that the Defendants were not found culpable for the offencesIt is therefore curious that they were charged.”

Continuing, Justice Ojukwu said: “I am convinced that, had the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation found it necessary to continue with the prosecution of the alleged offences, the prosecution would not have made the earlier application or agreed with the defence that the Defendants be acquitted.”

After laying out the legal framework based on Section 355 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), the Honourable Justice Ojukwu struck out the case with the following pronouncement:

“Premised on the above, the Charge against the Defendants is dismissed and each Defendant is acquitted in view of Section 355 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.”

The full text of Justice Ojukwu’s ruling including preceding court proceedings can be accessed here [pdf] and the entire SPIP Interim Investigation Report on NFF which the ruling references can be accessed here [pdf].

Bloodied and reeling from the unprecedented and empathic flooring, these disreputable characters, apprehensive that the ragged threads of their evil plotting were on the verge of disintegrating, instigated a second course of action.

An attempt was made to coopt Mr Pinnick and the NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi to a parallel case dealing with similar charges being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against three employees of the NFF at the FCT High Court.

That too was defeated with presiding judge Honourable Justice Peter O. Affen declining the EFCC’s motion in a ruling delivered on 20 February, 2020.

Explaining the rationale for his decision, the learned Judge Affen noted the following:

“….the inevitable conclusion to which I must come is that it will not be in the interest of justice to grant the proposed amendment to enable the Prosecution introduce charges on the same or similar alleged infractions for which the parties sought to be joined have already been acquitted at the Federal High Court which is not permissible in law.

The full text of the Honourable Justice Affen’s ruling can be accessed here [pdf].

These emphatic exculpations of Mr Pinnick and the NFF leadership serve as clear and unambiguous statements of the probity of the federation and lay bare the spurious basis and malevolent intent of all the allegations levelled against them.

Of course, people hellbent on impugning Mr Pinnick will never be deterred by the small matter of the affirmation of his innocence by the several courts of the land.

And just like clockwork, the usual suspects have popped up with a rehash of the already discredited corruption hogwash and manufactured outrage over the innovative virtual meeting Mr Pinnick held with sports journalists on Monday, 1 June.

Rather than applaud Mr Pinnick’s clear regard for Nigeria’s sports journalists as equal partners in progress, attempts are being made to obfuscate and speak authoritatively on issues they know nothing about.

It stands as a matter of public record that Mr Pinnick is one of the most investigated human beings in Nigeria’s history having had his affairs in and outside of public life scrutinised to within an inch of its life by known and unknown anti-graft agencies.

Every single time, the verdict has been clear, unanimous and resounding – not guilty, discharged and acquitted.

It begs the question, why do these traducers hate Nigerians so much that they are willing to destroy the only unifying factor in a country of over 200 million people just for their perverted ends?

They have now resorted to threats against the world-renowned audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) brought in by the NFF to ensure accountability and transparency in financial and other dealings.

It is on record that Mr Pinnick’s NFF is the first in history to publish annual audited accounts of the federation. Yet, traducers would rather project their own corrupt leanings onto a manifestly transparent process that mirrors global best practices.

PwC has been contracted to handle the recruitment of a new Super Falcons coach to ensure an above-board process, but people hellbent on destroying football would rather scare away one of the very few credible private organisations that have allied with the NFF.

To what end?

They contend that Mr Pinnick’s vehement assertions, made at different times most recently at the virtual meeting with journalists, that he will not seek a third time in office are a barefaced lie.

That a human being lacks the self-awareness to question how they purport to know the definite intentions and planned actions of another human is, as eloquent a statement as any, as to their state of mind. What manner of God are they?

It is incontrovertible that Mr Pinnick has ushered in a new breath of air and by dint of character and innovation, dragged the NFF into the 21st century, positioning the body to function optimally in the digital age.

The federation has been able to attract unprecedented levels of endorsements leading to a self-funding state of sixty-five per cent with their drive to accomplish full self-sufficiency derailed by the toxic atmosphere generated by these Nigeria-haters.

This, Mr Pinnick and the Executive Committee of the NFF have been able to achieve while not drawing salaries, housing or vehicle allowances – like their predecessors – for a single day since 2014.

Yet, people blinded by hate insist that he leaves himself open to the heartache and unnecessary drama involved in running Nigerian football for pecuniary gains.

For the first time since 1994, Nigerians have a tantalisingly talented Super Eagles squad they believe can compete with the best in the world and with an excellent chance of triumphing at the 2021 AFCON and excelling at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Incidentally, the coach of the team Gernot Rohr who recently signed a two-year extension is on track to become Nigeria’s longest-serving coach with the record of the coach of the ’94 side Clemens Westerhof firmly within reach. 

The truth is, despite the best efforts of mudslingers, blackmailers and serial petition writers whose raison d’etre is to impugn the person of Mr Pinnick and derail his vision for Nigerian football, the prognosis for Nigerian football is extremely robust.

One can only imagine how much more could have been achieved without the evil plotting and endless litigation this NFF board has been subjected to. 

The judgement is clear: Mr Pinnick has been completely exonerated of all charges – which the learned and esteemed Justices themselves admitted should never have been filed in the first place. 

Now is the time to let him steer the course of Nigerian football and unleash the latent potential therein for our collective benefits.

Those hellbent on destroying our common heritage will be held accountable by Nigerians for the wickedness and will be left with nothing but sorrow in their evil hearts and gnashing of their vicious teeth.