Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) darker President Amaju Pinnick could be set for more corruption-related legal woes after an Abuja High Court agreed to consider a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) requesting that he and the federation’s secretary-general Mohammad Sanusi be named as co-accused persons over the alleged diversion of FIFA grants totalling $8.4 million.
The court’s position comes after the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) decided to withdraw from participating in the case thereby giving the EFCC free rein to pursue both men.
The NFF chieftains had thought themselves free of the corruption charges when Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu dismissed a version of the charges as included in a case brought against the duo by the now-defunct Special Presidential Investigatory Panel (SPIP) formerly led by the disgraced Okoi Obono Obla last November.
The EFCC had made a similar demand to the court last October seeking to amend its charges against three NFF staffers accused of fraudulently diverting several million dollars worth of FIFA development funds so as to include Pinnick and Sanusi as co-accused persons.
The antigraft agency had earlier named both men as witnesses to the case but sought a change in their designation to reflect that they are now considered persons of interest.
hat request was, however, put on hold after a representative of the AGF Abubakar Musa informed the court that it would take control of all cases against the NFF in a bid to ascertain the validity of the charges, eliminate duplicity of charges and consolidate all the cases against the federation into one single case to be tried in a single court.
That position was however reversed on Monday when Musa informed the court of the AGF’s intention to withdraw from the case.
This, in turn, gave leave for the EFCC to resurrect their request to join Pinnick and Sanusi as co-accused to the corruption case.
Presiding Justice Peter Affen despite the protestations of NFF counsel Festus Ukpe, agreed that the EFCC who were represented in court by Barrister Steve Odiase had the prerogative as prosecutors to amend their charges to include new accused persons.
Justice Affen. however, adjourned the case until 20 February when a ruling will be made on the EFCC’s motion to name Pinnick and Sanusi as co-accused alongside the three NFF accounts staffers.
The corruption case being prosecuted by the EFCC relates to charges of five counts of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and misappropriation levied against NFF Director of Administration and Finance Christopher Andekin, NFF Cashier Reagan Zaka and Head, Finance and Account Department of the NFF Fadanari Mamza.
Andekin is alleged to have fraudulently diverted $1.3 million from a domiciliary account belonging to the NFF lodged with Zenith Bank, an act contrary to section 311 of the Penal Code.
On his part, Zaka was alleged to have fraudulently diverted an $8.4 million grant from FIFA meant for the development of football in Nigeria while Mamza is alleged to have diverted $2.3 million of development funds.
All three defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.