11 July 2018

Nigeria: Pinnick, Others Deny Any Wrong Doing, Waiting for EFCC Invitation

The leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) led by Amaju Melvin Pinnick, has refuted claims of corruption leveled against it and insisted that it has no formal invitation to face any anti-corruption agency.

A former national football coach, James Peters, had last week petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the leadership of the NFF over its financial dealings.

Special Adviser on Media to the Sports Minister, Nneka Ikem Anibeze, followed up with a statement that Pinnick, Shehu Dikko, Seyi Akinwunmi, Ahmed Fresh and Sanusi Mohammed, were being investigated by EFCC based on Peters' petition.

But in a statement issued yesterday by the Chairman of the Media Committee of the federation, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, it said that

it is on record that the NFF under the leadership of Amaju Melvin Pinnick has been the most successful in Nigeria to date in terms accountability and probity.

"Till date, the leadership of the NFF has not been invited by any anti-corruption or indeed, any agency of government to explain the allegations contained in the said petition or even called upon to give an account of its stewardship.

"The NFF wishes to assure the public that, if eventually it is called upon, the leadership would cooperate fully with any agency concerned and give a robust explanation of its financial activities, as the NFF under Amaju Pinnick has entrenched transparency and international best practices as its mantra and has therefore not contravene Laws of the land," Yahaya-Kwande stressed further.

The NFF Media Committee chief noted that the Financial Derivatives Ltd (FDC) which was wrongly labeled by James Peters in his petition as the conduit which the NFF embezzles money, is one of the major and most credible financial services companies in Nigeria with records of high reputations and integrity. "FDC was not appointed as NFF Financial Advisers by Amaju Pinnick as alleged by the Petitioner but by the NFF Congress, the supreme legislative body of the NFF, pursuant to the provisions of the NFF Statutes, at its 70th Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on November 23rd, 2014."

In addition to the FDC, two other companies were also appointed at the 70th AGM on November 23rd 2014- they are PricewaterHouseCoopers (PWC) as External Auditors and Bain and Co, as Management Consultants.

"These appointments were made on the recommendations of the Executive Committee and with the sole objective to bring in the world-class professionalism, transparency, integrity and international best practices especially in financial management of the NFF. FDC has been working for the NFF since 2014 with due audited accounts prepared annually as required by Law, thus one wonders how FDC has suddenly become an issue of petition in 2018."

He added: "It must be put on record that funds from sponsors are not NFF revenues to be paid to revenue accounts but operational funds provided by sponsors for specific purposes such as payments for coaches, competitions, events and other developmental programmes as agreed with the sponsors in each case. The sponsors are fully in control and fully aware of how and when their funds are being applied and for what purpose.

"In addition to the above process, the NFF leadership ensured that at any time it received funds from sponsors, FIFA or CAF, an information Memo is duly sent to the Hon. Minister of Sports to notify the Government of the receipts of the funds, where the funds is domiciled (TSA or Remittal or FDC) and how it is going to be applied, including payment due to any marketing agency.

"Indeed the Minister has praised and or defended the NFF several times before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for this show of transparency as it's the first regime of the NFF to duly notify Government of all its sources of funding, receipts and application. There are several representations to the Government (Ministry of Finance and Accountant-General's Office) by NFF, duly supported by the Hon. Minister of Sports, and National Assembly to completely exempt the NFF from the TSA.

"It is in recognition of this demand, that even the NFF Bill already passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly and awaiting transmittal to the President/Commander-In-Chief for assent, duly made provisions to exempt the NFF from TSA. In any case, NFF still uses the TSA for its government subventions and funds from donor agencies like FIFA and CAF even though both FIFA and CAF, arising from the 2016 FIFA process review programme have written to demand separate account be opened for their funds in commercial banks so they can audit and track their funds early."

Meanwhile, Pinnick yesterday failed to stop Chris Giwa from operating in the Glass House as NFF President following the inability of his counsel to raise a motion challenging the Jos Federal High Court's ex-parte order which installed Giwa in office.

The presiding judge, Justice Musa Kurya, the in the case between Yahaya Adama and Alhaji Aminu Maigari and three others had, on June 5, made an ex-parte order asking Pinnick's NFF leadership to vacate the Glass House for Giwa-led executive.

But Pinnick, through his counsel, Festus Keyamo (SAN) on July 5, stormed the court with two motions, demanding the vacation of the order pending the determination of an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.

Unfortunately, the motions could not be heard, due to objection by counsel to Adama and others, Ardzard, which led to the adjournment of the case until yesterday.

When the case came up again, Keyamo announced his representation for Maigari and Ahmadu, the first and second defendants, as well as Pinnick.

In the course of the appearance, Keyamo was challenged by a new counsel, Mr Shangyula Samuel, who told the court that he was the representative of the defendants.

After much argument before the court over representation of the defendants, Keyamo withdraw his appearance and was left to represent only Pinnick.

Keyamo, however, withdrew his earlier motion filed on May 28, asking Justice Kurya to excuse himself from the case, to enable the Chief Justice of the Federation to assign it to another judge.

That attempt created another argument as Samuel and Adama's counsel, Mr. Patrick Ikwueto (SAN), raised objections.

Consequently, Samuel told the court that he could not continue with the case because he knew little about it.

"My Lord, I am just coming into the matter for the first time and would need more time to enable me to study it very well before making any meaningful submission," Samuel told the court.

Although Keyamo objected to the statement, the judge adjourned the case to September 25for continuation of hearing.

Keyamo informed the court of the danger of not addressing the NFF saga with urgency, warning that FIFA by its letter to Nigeria, had warned of sanction against Nigeria if the proper thing was not done.

The judge said the parties could write to the authorities for a fiat for him to continue if there was anything serious about the case because "I am already on vacation."


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