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EFCC docks 4 Ex-NFF Officials over N1.5b Fraud

Source: pointblanknews.com

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, September 7, 2010, arraigned four former board members of the Nigerian Football Federation, over a N1.5billion fraud. The quartet: Sani Lulu Abdullahi , Amanze Uchegbulam , Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba and Taiwo Ogunjobi were charged before Justice David Okorowa of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a ten count charge.

The former NFF officials were docked by the EFCC for using their office to corruptly confer unfair advantage on themselves, defrauding the federal government to the tune of over N1.5 billion and robbing government of its revenue by issuing 1,263 tickets as complementary offers to friends, associates, political support groups and relations. Besides, the accused were also alleged to have booked the Hampshire Hotel at the 2010 South African World Cup fiesta, being a cheap, substandard, unbefitting and an unlisted hotel outside of the approved list of hotels by the Federation of International football Association, FIFA, for lodging by participating teams and caused the federal government to pay a fine to the tune of $125,000 for a breach of contract.

Troubles started for Lulu, Ogunjobi and Uchegbulam when they were sacked by nine out of the 13 members of the board of the NFF, on July 4, climaxing the crisis rocking the football house. The executive committee of the NFF had also, on July 27, sent Ojo-Oba on compulsory leave to pave way for an unfettered probe of the football house. On the basis of this, the EFCC had on July 6 summoned Lulu and others but were unable to keep the appointment until July 15 when they were eventually interrogated.

Although they were granted administrative bail after more than 10 hours interrogation, the EFCC had seized their travel documents to prevent them from travelling outside the country. As a prelude to their grilling, operatives of the Commission had on July 12 raided the Glass House secretariat of the NFF and took away documents relating to the N1.5bn scandal.

The four suspects were arrested on the strength of a June 28 petition by aggrieved members of the executive committee of the NFF, which detailed their alleged financial recklessness. The petition entitled, “Petition against the Sani Lulu-Abdullahi-led NFF board for corrupt practices,” catalogued how the dismissed board members allegedly embarked on a spending spree with public funds

Count one of the 10 count charge reads that “That you Sani Lulu Abdulahi {M}, Amanze Uchegbulam {M}, Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba{M} and Taiwo Ogunjobi{M}, on or about the month of February, 2009, in the office of the Nigeria Football Federation in Abuja, within the Abuja judicial division of the Federal High Court, while being board members of the Nigeria Football Federation, conspired to commit an offence of felony to wit: refusing to follow due process by not requesting for quotations from suppliers, but rather without legal jurisdiction opted for the emergency procurement procedure in the procurement of 2 nos Mercedes Benz Irizar buses and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 518{1} and {7} of the Criminal Code Act cap 38, Laws of the Federation, 2004”.

Count two reads “That you Sani Lulu Abdulahi {M}, Amanze Uchegbulam {M}, Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba {M} and Taiwo Ogunjobi {M}, on or about the month of December, 2008, while being Board and Executive members of the Nigeria Football Federation, in office of the Nigeria Football Federation in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, within the Abuja judicial division of the Federal High Court, did breach Public Procurement procedures to wit: refusing to follow due procurement procedures by not requesting for quotations from suppliers in the procurement of 2 nos Mercedes Benz Marcopolo buses but rather without legal justification opted for emergency procurement in awarding the contract to CNBC Nigeria Limited, thereby committed an offence contrary to section 4 and punishable under Section 58 of the Public Procurement Act No. 14. 2007”.

Count three states that “That you Sani Lulu Abdulahi {M}, Amanze Uchegbulam {M}, Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba {M} and Taiwo Ogunjobi {M}, on or about the month of December, 2008, while being Board and Executive members of the Nigeria Football Federation, in office of the Nigeria Football Federation in the federal Capital Territory, Abuja, within the Abuja judicial division of the Federal High Court, did breach Public Procurement procedures to wit: approving the payment of the sum of N82, 000,000{ Eighty Two Million Naira}, as part payment for the supply of 2 nos Mercedes Benz Marcopolo buses, over and above the maximum payment limit of 15 % of the value of the contract sum as mobilization to CNBC Nigeria Limited, thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 35 and punishable under Section of the Public Procurement Act No. 14, 2007”

After the arguments for bail application by the defence counsel, S.I Ameh were taken, the presiding judge stepped down the matter for about five hours before delivering his ruling on their bail application.

While delivering his brief ruling, Justice David Okorowa granted the accused bail on the following conditions: accused persons must each provide N100 million bond with two sureties in like sum; one of the sureties must be a federal civil servant not less than GL 15 with a tax clearance of three years. The other surety must be a responsible citizen with landed property in Abuja Municipal Council Area, AMAC; the sureties must depose to an affidavit of means with the registrar of the court; the accused must deposit their passport photographs.

The judge thereafter remanded the accused persons in EFCC custody and ordered that they be produced in court tomorrow for transfer to kuje prison should they fail to meet the bail conditions by then.