The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick and four other officials of the football body.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu issued the order of arrest following the refusal of Pinnick and his colleagues at the NFF, Seyi Akinwumi, Shehu Dikko, Sunusi Mohammed and Ahmed Yusuf Fresh to appear in court to answer to the charges of misappropriation of funds belonging to NFF.
The several refusal by the defendants to appear in court, prompted the prosecuting lawyer, Celcius Ukpong, to orally apply for their arrest yesterday and the request was granted by the judge.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in a swift reaction to the pronouncement of the court insists no bench warrant wasvissued against its leadership, saying the case was adjourned to September 26, 2019.
The Federal Government had through the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, filed 17 counts, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019, before the court, in which it accused the NFF officials of alleged misappropriation of $8,400,000 belonging to the football body.
The money was said to have been paid by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association to the NFF as appearance fees in the group stage of the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
The defendants were also accused of “moving dishonestly and intentionally the sum of about N4bn” belonging to the NFF without the consent of the NFF.
The allegations, NFF officials have continued to deny and have insisted the case brought by SPIP is baseless, mere persecution and an abuse of court process, as the Federation has a pending matter in the same court challenging SPIP’s jurisdiction.