The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has warned against persecution and public show trial of its officials by the Special Presidential Investigatory Panel (SPIP) on the recovery of public property, headed by Okoi Obona-Obla.
A statement by the NFF, through its lawyer, Mamman Nasir, over the weekend bemoaned the “orchestrated media campaign” against its officials and the use of an “online media mob” to promote the pre-determined media reportage of the activities of Obon-Obla and SPIP.
The statement read: “It must be pointed out that while these publications of the news of the warrant of arrest started on Wednesday, 9th January, 2019, the date on the face of the eventual published warrant unlawfully obtained from a magistrate’s court in Abuja is Thursday, 10th January, 2019.
“The obvious conclusion here is that some interested persons have an unrestrained and direct access to Chief Obono-Obla, and have thus secured a front row seat that allows them a pre-knowledge of all steps to be taken by Chief Obono-Obla and or SPIP, which they gleefully publish ahead of these steps.”
The counsel to the NFF questioned why a warrant of arrest would be obtained from a magistrate court instead of a High Court as prescribed by the law setting up the SPIP.
“More grievous to the rights of our client and its officials is the fact that Chief Obono-Obla and SPIP went to secure a warrant of arrest from a magistrate court, contrary to the clear provisions of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, the law setting up the SPIP, that ONLY the Federal High Court is vested with the jurisdiction to issue warrants for the SPIP.
“It can only be concluded that this deviation was purposely to achieve the aim of avoiding the protection afforded everyone, including the affected NFF officials, under the same law that set up SPIP, which requires the SPIP to present a prima facie case to a judge of the Federal High Court to justify its case before a warrant of arrest may be issued under the hand of the judge"
Nasir, however, stated that he has filed a suit against the presidential panel in the FCT High Court, Abuja.
“Our client and the affected NFF officials have also taken the additional step to file a suit, FC/ABJ/CS/17/2019 at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division (the only court statutory conferred with jurisdiction over SPIP matters under the enabling act). The suit is to allow this whole sordid matter to be ventilated in the Court of the land and to check the oppression of our client and its officials.”
On Friday, four operatives of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on the Recovery of Public Properties had stormed the Nigeria Football Federation headquarters, popularly known as the Glass House, to effect the arrest warrant on NFF President, Amaju Pinnick and four other top NFF officials.
The Special Presidential Investigative Panel had obtained a warrant of arrest from a Magistrate Court last Tuesday for the NFF President; First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi; Second Vice President, Shehu Dikko; NFF Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi and Ahmed Yusuf.