By Alex Enumah
An Abuja High Court, Maitama, on Thursday refused to grant a request to join President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr Amaju Pinnick, and Secretary-General, NFF, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, as necessary parties in the alleged misappropriation of $9.5 million FIFA grant suit.
Justice Peter Affen, who declined the request in a ruling he delivered, held that it would amount to abuse of court processes to join Pinnick and Sanusi in the matter after they were acquitted of similar charge at the Federal High Court, Abuja division.
Justice Affen, who stated that there was a similar charge before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, added that in line with the provisions of section 355 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, they were acquitted.
He then adjourned until April 30 for the trial of the other three defendants.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had dragged the three officials of NFF before the court in an alleged misappropriation of $9.5 million FIFA grant before applying on April 30, 2019 to join both Pinnick and Sanusi in the matter as co-defendants.
Those already under trial include NFF Director of Administration and Finance, Christopher Andekin; Cashier, Reagan Zaka; and Head, Finance and Account Department, Fadanari Mamza.
They were arraigned on a five-count criminal charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and misappropriation.
According to the charge, the defendants were alleged to have conspired between January 8 and 26, 2015, to commit the offence, contrary to Section 97 of the Penal Code.
Andekin was alleged to have been entrusted with the money meant for the development of football in Nigeria, a grant from world football body, the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA).
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 pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
However, on June 27, 2019 while adopting processes filed in support of the application for joinder, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Steve Odiase, urged the court to grant the application.
According to him, the charge filed by the government against the first, second defendants and both Pinnick and Sanusi at the Federal High Court in Abuja was different from the one at the FCT High Court.
On his part, the counsel for the defendants, Mr Festus Ukpe, while adopting affidavits opposing the joinder, urged the court to refuse the application because the two charges are the same.
Haven declined to include Pinnick and Sanusi in the matter, trial of the other defendants continue on April 30.