N1.3bn scam: Lulu, Ogunjobi, Amanze, Ojo-Oba want judge to hands-off case

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Lulu, Ogunjobi, Amanze, Ojo-Oba want judge to hands-off case

Lulu, Ogunjobi, Amanze, Ojo-Oba want judge to hands-off case

After their futile attempt to quash the 10-count criminal charge that was preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, erstwhile helmsmen of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, Mr Taiwo Ogunjobi, Sani Lulu, Uchegbulam Amanze and Bolaji Ojo-Oba, yesterday, begged trial Justice Donatus Okorowo of a Federal High Court in Abuja to hands-off their trial.

The accused quartet who are facing trial over alleged role they played in the mismanagement of about N1.3 billion belonging to the football house, pleaded the trial judge to stay further proceeding before him and await the outcome of an appeal they have lodged before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.

They have gone before the appellate court to challenge the refusal of the trial judge to quash all the charges against them for want of jurisdiction and lack of evidence.

Justice Okorowo had in a ruling he delivered on February 9, okayed all the accused persons for prosecution, saying he was convinced that they have a criminal case to answer pertaining to the allegations meted against them by the anti-graft agency.

At the resumed hearing on the case yesterday, EFCC lawyer, Chief Titus Ashaolu, SAN, sought leave of the court to re-arraign the accused persons on an amended criminal charge.

The prosecuting counsel noted that having amended the charge, the former NFF officials ought to enter fresh plea before the court with a view to either admitting or denying their alleged complicity in the N1.3billion fraud that he said greatly hampered the development of sports in the country.

However, spirited efforts by the EFCC to re-dock them yesterday proved abortive owing to their contention that the principle of judicial hierarchy entails that the trial judge ought to allow the appellate court to determine whether he has the requisite jurisdiction to try them or not.

It would be recalled that operatives of the EFCC had on July 7, 2010, arrested the four accused persons.

They were specifically accused of siphoning about $125, 000 (N18.7 million) through shoddy hotel bookings in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, $250,000.00 lost as a result of booking the wrong airline for the trip, $400,000 allegedly expended on the Nigeria/Colombia friendly match and $236,000.00 which vanished from the coffers of the Glass House in 2009.

Other allegations against them were that they pocketed $5million marketing revenue received by the NFF from FIFA and corporate sponsors of the World Cup, N96million allegedly used in purchasing two luxury buses for the national team, N34million allegedly spent to conduct elections for the football monitoring body, $1.2 million World Cup grant unaccounted for and N185 million Lulu and his co-accused persons allegedly shared amongst state chairmen of the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), in their futile bid to frustrate their ouster from the football house.

However,  they had since queried the powers of the EFCC to initiate criminal action against them, insisting that it was only the Court of Arbitration under the Federation of International Football Association, FIFA that has the exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute them over the allegations.

The defence team led by Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN and Mr Sunday Ameh, SAN, in opposition to the trial also maintained that the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, never authorized the EFCC to charge the matter to court, adding that some of the charges were baseless.

In : Sports