The trial of the embattled former officials of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, resumed on Thursday before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. The former officials are standing trial over an alleged misappropriation of 1.3 billion Naira belonging to the football body.
At the proceedings, the accused persons, through their counsels led by Mr. Sunday Ameh and Chief Akin Olujinmi, both senior advocates of Nigeria, told the court that they can only be tried under FIFA rule and so prayed the court to quash the criminal charge levied against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The former officials; Mr. Sanni Lulu, Mr. Amanze Uchegbulam. Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba and Mr. Taiwo Ogunjobi, in their application, prayed the court to quash the charge against them on the ground the Federal Government does not have any right to legislate over football related matters under the constitution adding that the NFF has an Act regulating its affairs which is being tailored after FIFA.
They further stated that the charges preferred against them bothered on the breach of Criminal Act, EFCC Act and Public Procurement Act adding that since NFF is not being regulated by such Acts, it could not be binding on the accused persons and as such they could not have breached the provisions of such laws.
Responding to the application, the prosecution counsel, Chief Titus Ashaolu, also a senior advocate opposed the application saying that in as much that FIFA law is not domesticated in Nigeria that the accused will have to be prosecuted under the laws of the land.
The presiding judge, Justice Donatus Okorowo after listening to all the parties ordered the defense counsel to file their written argument within seven days, and subsequently adjourned the matter to Wednesday 16th February, 2011 for adoption of briefs.
According to the charge preferred against the former NFF officials, they were accused of mismanaging billions of naira which include 125,000 dollars, 250,000 dollars, N34 million, 400,000 dollars, with the stolen 236,000 dollars added to the alleged mismanaged funds.
They were equally alleged to have mismanaged monies received from the world football-governing body (FIFA), Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) and sponsors in the course of preparing for the 2010 World Cup in South-Africa where the Nigeria Super Eagles had a dismal outing.
Some of the monies received from the bodies allegedly include 1 million dollars and 200,000 dollars.
It was also alleged that the sacked NFF leadership used N185 million to bribe the 37 state football Associations at N5 million each to support its cause.
The affected officials were also alleged to have squandered another 5 million dollars, said to be proceeds of marketing from FIFA.
By Nnamdi Felix / Abuja