17 January 2019

Nigeria: Court Suspends Warrant of Arrest for Pinnick, Four Others

Attempts by the Okoi Obono-Obla-led Special Presidential Investigative Panel (SPIP) to arrest President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and four other board members on allegations of corruption suffered a set back on Monday as the earlier warrant of arrest granted to the body has been suspended.

An Abuja Chief Magistrate District Court II, sitting at Wuse Zone 2 and presided by his Worship Mabel T. Segun Bello, through its order put in abeyance the warrant of arrest it had issued previously to the Obono-Obla panel against some elected officials of NFF, namely; Amaju Melvin Pinnick (NFF President), Seyi Akinwunmi, Shehu Dikko, Ahmed Yusuf and Dr. Sanusi Mohammed, its General Secretary.

A statement from the law firm of Mamman, Nasir & Co, counsels representing the NFF, yesterday maintained that the warrant was obtained by SPIP erroneously "as it ultra vires the enabling law establishing SPIP."

The statement signed by Muhammad Sani Katu Esq, stressed that this fresh order for the maintenance of status quo thereby suspending the execution of the warrant of arrest was made on 14th day of January, 2019 under the hand of the presiding judge of the Court (Chief District Judge II).

"The Court made the order after hearing our clients' application No. MN/04/2019 challenging the jurisdiction of the court, among others.

"By the same order, the SPIP has now been put on notice to appear before the Court to answer to other fundamental and substantial issues of law put forward by our clients in the matter, including the fact that there is no basis

whatsoever for a warrant of arrest to be issued against them under the law," observed the statement.

It further stated that notwithstanding this positive and deserved outcome, expected by our clients, "we hold unto their firm instructions to pursue with utmost diligence and determination Suit No. FC/ABJ/CS/17/2019 pending separately at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, which our clients have instituted against Chief Obono Obla and SPIP for violating our clients' rights under the law and, acting outside and contrary to the enabling law setting up SPIP."

The law firm further averred that: "For the avoidance of any doubt, our clients reiterate most categorically that there are no charges against them existing anywhere, as they have not committed any crimes under the law, whatsoever.

"They maintain that this whole lamentable matter is nothing more than the machination of some persons who are adverse to competing fairly for the leadership of NFF, but desperately wish to be foisted on the federation (NFF) by external forces, who are apparently misled.

"Our clients are, therefore, confident that this conspiracy will surely be defeated in time," the statement maintained.

On behalf of Pinnick and the four others board members, the law firm of Mamman. Nasir & Co expressed NFF's appreciation to all its sponsors, partners and other stakeholders for their steadfast loyalty and support.

"They should rest assured that NFF remains committed to the orderly, transparent and accountable management of its affairs at all times, in keeping with best global standards," the statement concluded.

Last Friday, four operatives of the SPIP had stormed the NFF's Glass House in Abuja to effect the arrest warrant on NFF President, Amaju Pinnick and four other top NFF officials.

The SPIP had obtained a warrant of arrest from an Abuja Magistrate Court penultimate Tuesday for the NFF President; First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi; Second Vice President, Shehu Dikko; NFF Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi and Ahmed Yusuf.

In swift reaction to what it termed trial by media, the NFF counsel had bemoaned the "orchestrated media campaign" against its clients and the use of an "online media mob" to promote the pre-determined media reportage of the activities of Obono-Obla and SPIP.

"It must be pointed out that while these publications of the news of the warrant of arrest started on Wednesday, 9th January, 2019, the date on the face of the eventual published warrant unlawfully obtained from a magistrate's court in Abuja is Thursday, 10th January, 2019," it noted in an earlier statement issued before heading to get the suspension of the said warrant of arrest on Monday.

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