[BREAKING] Alleged misappropriation of FIFA grant: Court declines to join Pinnick, Sanusi
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) today declined to allow the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) amend a criminal charge before the court to join the President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick and Secretary-General, Dr Mohammed Sanusi for alleged misappropriation of FIFA grant.
The anti-corruption commission had on October 18, 2018, arraigned three officials of the Federation before Justice Peter Affen, sitting at Maitama, Abuja, for allegedly misappropriating $9.5 million, being a grant from the world football governing body.
The commission arraigned NFF Director of Administration and Finance, Christopher Andekin; Cashier, Reagan Zaka and Head, Finance and Account Department, Fadanari Mamza, on a five-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and misappropriation.
The EFCC alleged that they conspired between January 8 and 26, 2015 to commit the offence, contrary to Section 97 of Penal Code.
Andekin was alleged to have been entrusted with a grant from world football body, the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) meant for the development of football in Nigeria.
He was alleged to have fraudulently diverted $1.3 million from the NFF domiciliary account with Zenith Bank, an act that is contrary to Section 311 of the Penal Code.
Zaka, on his part, was said to have fraudulently diverted $7.2 million from the FIFA grant, while Mamza was alleged of diverting $2. 3 million.
They all, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
However, on March 1, 2019, EFCC, through its counsel, Sir Steve Odiase, applied to amend the charge against the three with a view to joining both Pinnick and Sanusi to face charges alongside the three officials on the alleged misappropriation of the FIFA grant.
The defendants, however, objected to the application for joinder, claiming that it was an abuse of court process as the parties being sought to join were facing similar charge before both Abuja Magistrate’s Court and the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court
The disbanded Okoi Obono Obla-led Presidential Panel on Assets Recovery had filed charges against Pinnick and Sanusi before the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, bordering on alleged infraction on the FIFA grant.
Ruling on the EFCC’s application today, Justice Affen held that an amendment can be sought and granted by the court at any time before judgment in line with the provision of Section 216 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
According to him, the court has the discretion to allow such amendment provided there is no injustice to the accused, adding that when granted, the accused would be called upon to take his plea.
Justice Affen stated that it was an afterthought by the prosecution to seek to join both Pinnick and Sanusi in the case had earlier listed them as witnesses.