23 February 2016

Nigeria: Alleged U.S.$1.5 Billion World Cup Fraud - Lulu, Ogunjobi, Others Lose Bid to Stop Trial

Justice E. S. Chukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on Monday dismissed a "no-case-submission" filed by Sani Lulu, a former President of the Nigeria Football Federation in the corruption charge brought against him and three others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Others are Amanze Uchegbulam, a former first vice president of NFF; Taiwo Ogunjobi, a former executive committee member and NFF former secretary-general, Bolaji Ojo-Oba.

Arraigned on September 6, 2010, the quartet were accused of allegedly misappropriating over N1.5billion released by the Federal Government to the NFF without giving proper accounts of how the money was spent during the South Africa 2010 World Cup.

They were explicitly accused of siphoning about $125,000 through shoddy hotel bookings in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, $250,000 lost as a result of booking the wrong airline for the trip, $400,000 allegedly expended on the Nigeria/Colombia friendly match and $236, 000 which vanished from the coffers of the Glass House in 2009.

Mr. Lulu and his co-accused among other things, were also accused of flouting due process in the purchase of two Marcopolo buses for the national teams as well as sharing of N185million amongst state chairmen of the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), in their futile bid to frustrate their ouster from the football house.

The spokesperson to the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said the accused persons had since their arraignment employed all means known to law to frustrate their trial as they jointly filed a "no case submission" through their lawyers, which was strongly opposed by counsel to EFCC, Titus O. Ashaolu, SAN.

Justice Chukwu, while dismissing the application, said the defendants were bound by the Public Procurement Act, PPA, and as such should defend themselves of the charges leveled against them by the EFCC.

"The NFF statue is not an Act of the National Assembly but it must be subject to the laws of Nigeria. This is particularly in a case where the money being expended is tax-payers' money and not one of a limited liability company.

"The provision of Section 60 of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) covers NFF and having said that, it followed that all the defendants are bound by the provision of the PPA", the judge held. The case has been adjourned to March 9, 2016 for the accused persons to open their defence.


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