By Sylvanus Okpe
The Federal High Court, Abuja Division, on Tuesday, struck out the corruption charges preferred against the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick.
The court’s decision followed an application by the federal government, urging it to withdraw its case against Mr Pinnick and others accused of mismanaging money gotten from the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA).
Recall that federal government in May, arraigned Mr Pinnik and four others on 18 counts for allegedly diverting the sum, which was given to the NFF as fees for appearing at the last Russia 2018 World Cup.
The five officials, including the NFF Secretary, Sunusi Mohammed; the 1st Vice-President, Seyi Akinwumi; the 2nd Vice-President, Shehu Dikko and an Executive member, Yusuff Fresh, were accused of misappropriating N4 billion without the approval of the NFF.
They were also alleged to have contravened the law by failing to declare their assets.
They were arraigned by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP).
The panel, then led by Okoi Obono-Obla, has since been dissolved by President Muhammadu Buhari. Mr Obono-Obla is himself wanted for allegedly forging a WAEC certificate.
“The prosecution withdrew the charges against the defendants. And so we asked that the case be withdrawn. The court invoked section 355 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act to withdraw the charges,” a lawyer representing the NFF officials, Mohammed Katu, said on Tuesday.
The section quoted empowers the prosecution to withdraw its charges against the defendant where necessary.
This trial is, however, separate from that being conducted by the anti-graft agency, EFCC, against Mr Pinnick and others.