The Nigeria Football Federation has cautioned against persecution and public show trial of its officials.
This is against the backdrop of erroneous media reports over the past week, which claimed that the Presidency had ordered the prosecution of leading officials of the NFF, while the Special Presidential Investigatory Panel (SPIP) on the recovery of public property headed by Okoi Obona-Obla sought a travel ban against NFF President Amaju Pinnick and six other officials.
They include Vice Presidents Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi and Mallam Shehu Dikko, Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf, Alizor Chuks, Mohammed Cheku and Dr Sanusi Mohammed.
However, in a press statement made available to THISDAY yesterday by lawyers to the NFF, Mamman Nasir and Co., the football federation bemoaned the “orchestrated media campaign” against it officials and the use of an “online media mob” to promote the pre-determined media reportage of the activities of Chief Obon-Obla and SPIP.
This online onslaught ceaselessly tag the stories to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency and its media aides, the APC, the opposition parties, the EFCC, ICPC, FIFA, CAF and their officials, among others, according to the statement.
“It must appear curious that of the myriads of cases being investigated by SPIP, it is the NFF and clearly targeted officials that are subjected to this sustained media trial and persecution,” it said.
While condemning a warrant of arrest “secured under obviously false grounds”, the NFF stated the readiness of the affected officials to subject themselves to the ordinary, well-laid down processes of law in Nigeria.
“They would, however, insist on being treated with fairness and accorded all the rights and protection of the law,” it said.
Remarking that the orchestrated effort to characterise the targeted officials as corrupt has seen the exact same petition previously presented to all law enforcement agencies in the country, the statement continued:
“It has become clear that the sponsors of these ceaseless political attacks are the same coterie of individuals who have failed to forcefully or by subterfuge take over the leadership of NFF.
“Just like in the past doomed efforts, our clients and its officials are prepared and determined to fight off this barely disguised and renewed effort to take over the leadership of NFF by false and baseless accusations against the reputation and integrity of the targeted NFF officials.
“Accordingly, we have our clients’ instructions to pursue the suit filed in court against Chief Okoi Obono-Obla and SPIP to its logical conclusion, fortified in the knowledge of their innocence and eventual vindication, having not committed any crime under the law whatsoever.”