Defendants to face trials on Sept 26.
NFF Kicks says no bench warrant.
By Sylvanus Ofekun
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the President of the Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick and four other officials of the football body.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on Monday issued the order of arrest following the refusal of Pinnick and others to appear in court to answer to the charges of misappropriation of funds belonging to NFF.
Prosecution Counsel Celsius Ukpong had prayed the court to grant a bench warrant following the tactics of the defendants in avoiding court summon.Counsel to the defendant Sani Katu objected the prayer,insisting that his clients are among the Federal Government delegation to the 2019 AFCON in Egypt and prayed the court to grant him time to show prove of his claim.The prosecution counsel well armed, informed the court that none of the defendant made the 11 man delegation of the federal Government to Egypt.
Our correspondent, reports that Justice Ojukwu ruled that the defendants do not have business in Egypt since they are not the players or technical officials assign to the team and then issued the bench warrant,while adjourning the case to September 26 for arraignment.
Apart from Pinnick, other defendants whose arrests were ordered by the judge include, NFF Secretary, Sunusi Mohammed; the 1st Vice-President, Seyi Akinwumi; the 2nd Vice-President, Shehu Dikko and an Executive member, Yusuff Fresh.
“We are happy that a bench warrant has been issued,the defendants have been avoiding court summons.We will get them by force if they fail to surrender.The only way out is for them to come and submit themselves for arraignment,they are facing 17 count charge and September 26 is a date for their arraignment.” Prosecuting counsel told Journalist.
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.
In a swift reaction, lawyer representing the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, has said that no bench warrant was issued against his client on Monday.
Sani Katu said this in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES.
“The court order was made in two folds. One was for the issuance of a bench warrant from the second to the fifth defendant excluding Pinnick.”
“The second part is that the bench warrants will cease to exist if the second to the fourth defendant can bring a document to show that they are taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations,” Mr Katu said.