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N1.3bn Fraud: Court bars Ex-NFF Official from overseas trip


A Federal High Court in Abuja , on Friday, February 25 th , 2011, turned down  an application filed by  a former executive member of the Nigeria Football Federation, Dr Bolaji-Ojo Oba, seeking a temporary release of his traveling documents. Ojo is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alongside three others on a seven count charge bordering on  corruptly  using their offices  to  confer unfair advantage on themselves, defrauding the Federal government to the tune of over N1.3 billion naira {One billion, three hundred thousand Naira)  and $2 million {two million dollars} among others.

  Besides, the accused persons  were also alleged to have booked the Hampshire Hotel, South Africa,  being a cheap, substandard, unbefitting and an unlisted hotel among 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.  The other three accused persons are Sani Lulu Abdulahi; Amanze Uchegbulam and Taiwo Ogunjobi, all former officials of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF.

  Ojo-Oba's application could not be filed as the presiding judge preempted his move saying that the application would only waste the time of the court. The EFCC counsel, Olasupo Ashaolu, SAN, went ahead to present a 17 paragraph affidavit  opposing an earlier motion seeking to quash all the charges preferred against them and also challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.  The travelling documents of all the accused persons  were ordered seized on September 7, 2010, by the court as part of the bail condition when they were arraigned. Other bail condition was the provision of a N100million bond by each of the accused with two sureties each .  The presiding judge,  Justice Okorowa, while turning down the application for the release of  Ojo-Oba's travelling documents, warned the accused to desist from bringing frivolous applications aimed at delaying the trial. He had at the last proceedings, also warned the other three  accused persons  to desist from applying delay tactics. The first accused person, Sani Lulu, through his counsel, S.I Ameh, had brought a motion praying the court for extension of time to file his written address on the motion earlier brought which challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.

The EFCC counsel, Ashaolu, SAN, had also opposed the motion, as he described it as a ploy to delay trial and as such a violation of the orders of the court. He added that the accused persons were at the last hearing given ten days to file their written addresses with effect from January 20th, 2011. He therefore wondered why the accused persons would return with an application seeking for an extension of time. Justice Okorowa, after declining the prayers of Ojo-Oba, adjourned the case till May 9, 2011. Lulu, Uchegbulam, Ojo-Oba, and Ogunjobi were arrested by EFCC on June 7, 2010 but granted administrative bail. They were, however, rearrested by the commission's operatives on Monday September 6, 2010. They are being tried on a 7 count charge.

Our dreams form the index of our life. If you find yours, you find joy and fulfillment.
By: Charles Emeto