The lawyer representing the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, has said that no bench warrant was issued against his client on Monday.
Sani Katu said this in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Katu refuted claims made by the prosecution lawyer, Celsius Ukpong, that all five defendants currently facing trial at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court were issued bench warrants following their absence in court on Monday.
Mr Pinnick and four others, namely: 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 diverting $8.4 million from the NFF account in 2014.
The alleged $8.4 million was reported to have been paid by the world football governing body, FIFA, ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The defendants were also accused of ”scheming the association through dubious programs including the organisation of fake matches which resulted in the fraudulent accumulation of funds meant for the football association”.
The five defendants had told the court, through their lawyers, that they were attending the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)
Miffed by their seeming disregard for the court, the judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, decided on an action to compel their appearance at the last sitting.
The court ruled that Mr Pinnik and his co-accused must be arraigned at the next adjourned date, September, 26.
Following the court ruling, journalists approached the lawyers for clarification on the decision.
Explaining the details of the decision, Mr Ukpong claimed that an order was made for the arrest of all five defendants.
But, Mr Katu said that his client was ‘exempted’ from the order because the judge believed he had a good reason to be present at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.
Mr Pinnick is also a vice president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), organisers of the AFCON.
“The court order was made in two folds. One was for the issuance of a bench warrant from the second to the fifth defendant excluding Pinnick.”
“The second part is that the bench warrants will cease to exist if the second to the fourth defendant can bring a document to show that they are taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations,” Mr Katu said.
Mr Pinnick and the other accused are facing a 17-count charge for the alleged offence.
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