President Muhammadu Buhari has neither issued a travel ban nor ordered the arrest of the Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick over allegations of fraud running into billions of naira.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President gave this indication in a press statement issued Sunday night to address media reports suggesting that President Buhari has been briefed on investigations on the NFF and has made some orders in that respect.
“A press release in circulation in the last 24 hours, to the effect that President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the arrest and prosecution of Amaju Pinnick, the NFF Chairman, is fake news because anyone familiar with the President’s unmitigated and unshakable commitment to the due processes of the law will not make such assumptions of the President,” Mr. Shehu said in the statement
“The position of the president that allegations of criminal nature should be addressed only by investigation and law enforcement agencies, within the framework of the law has not changed.
“It is not in the nature of President Buhari to say go and arrest that man or woman as formed the practice in the past.
“Rather, he allows all allegations of this nature to be addressed using the mechanism of the rule of law even as law enforcement and investigation agencies should not in any way be hampered in performing their duties.”
While the president has distanced himself from the rumours, his media aide warned that nobody should seek to influence the course of investigations.
Having been engulfed in legitimacy issues for the better part of his first term in office, the latest crisis involving Mr Pinnick and the leadership of the NFF is set to take another toll on football administration in the country.
The NFF on its part has also denied that there have been shady transactions in the Glass House.
Ademola Olajire, the spokesperson for the NFF had said that federation have been open in all its transaction.
He said litigation will be taken against erring media houses peddling ‘falsehood’.
“The report is completely unfounded and is only a product of the writer’s imagination. The NFF President, who is also the 1st Vice President of the Confederation of African Football, has not received any such message from any of the agencies mentioned by the writer and has also never been placed on travel ban.
“Mr. Pinnick was in Accra, Ghana on Friday, 4th January 2019 for a meeting with NFF and CAF partners AITEO and returned to Nigeria the same day. He has been going about his lawful official and private activities unhindered. The NFF published its audited account in two (2) major national newspapers (ThisDay and Daily Trust) on Thursday, 20th December 2018 and in another major newspaper (Vanguard) on Tuesday, 25th December 2018. Anyone interested in the Federation’s financial transactions can refer to those pages.
“All incomes into the NFF from the Federal Government, FIFA and CAF from 2014 till now have been correctly recorded and reflected in our accounts. The NFF received nothing like the N59 billion that the fake news reporters have been hawking. It is laughable.
“Our lawyers will take up the matter of the fake news item with the newspaper company that first published it in its online edition. But we urge other media companies and outlets to be painstaking in verification of their news items,” he added.