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$9.5m FIFA grant: Absence of defendants’ counsel stalls trial of NFF officials

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The trial of five officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) was on Thursday stalled following the absence of their counsel Mr Festus Ukpe.

Justice Peter Affen, adjourned the case until June 27, following a letter by Ukpe notifying the court of his absence.

Earlier, EFCC said it was joining Mr Amaju Pinnick, NFF President and Dr Muhammad Sanusi, General Secretary in the charge.

At the last sitting on April 30, Affen ordered Ukpe to produce a copy of the Magistrates ‘ Charge Sheet against Pinnick and Sanusi in the alleged 9. 5 million dollars FIFA grant scam.

The judge gave the order after Ukpe told the court that the same matter was pending  in a Magistrates’ court against Pinnick and Sanusi.

The judge demanded for the copy of the charge before the magistrate court to avoid abuse of court processes.

Affen further ordered Ukpe to file further affidavit before May 30 showing that the case was pending in such court and adjourned until May 30.

Those standing trial earlier are Christopher Andekin, NFF Director of Administration and Finance, Reagan Zaka, Cashier and Fadanari Mamza, Head, Finance and Account Department.

They were dragged to the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on five counts of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and misappropriation.

The EFCC, through its counsel, Mr Steve Odiase told the court that the three defendants conspired between Jan. 8 and Jan. 26, 2015 to commit the offences, contrary to Section 97 of Penal Code.

Odiase alleged that Andekin was entrusted with money meant for the development of football in Nigeria, a grant from the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA).

He said that Andekin however fraudulently diverted 1.3 million dollars from the NFF domiciliary account with Zenith Bank, an act that is contrary to the provisions of Section 311 of the Penal Code.

He further alleged that Zaka on his part, fraudulently diverted 7. 2 million dollars grant from FIFA for development of football in Nigeria while Mamza diverted 2. 3 million dollars.

The defendants all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

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