Nigeria’s high court on Monday adjourned a corruption case against the head of the country’s top football body and four high-ranking officials, after they failed to appear in court.
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has travelled to Egypt for the African Cup of Nations tournament despite the on-going criminal case.
At Monday’s hearing, the judge ordered an arrest warrant for the four officials– Vice presidents Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko, executive Ahmed Yusuf and general secretary Mohammed Sanusi — facing trial alongside Pinnick.
The federation bosses face a 17-count charge ranging from failure to declare assets, conflict of interest and embezzling $8.4 million (7.5 million euros) paid by world football governing body, FIFA to Nigeria for participation in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Charges were brought in May after a government investigation into alleged graft at the body.
The defence counsel in court said the accused officials were in Egypt on government assignment, which the prosecution disputed.
The case was adjourned until September 26, when the accused must appear.
The prosecution counsel, Celsus Ukpong said the officials, who have twice failed to attend trial “refused to come to court because they felt they are too big.”
Pinnick and the other officials are accused of failing to declare assets, conflict of interest and taking cash through a web of schemes — including payments received for games that never happened and unexplained payments to match-agents.
All have denied the charges, with the NFF calling the accusations “frivolous and baseless.”
Former NFF presidents and senior figures in Nigeria football have urged the accused officials to appear in court to clear their names.
Nigeria’s troubled football body have long faced a raft of accusations for corruption and mismanagement.
The long-running battles over NFF finances and elections have brought threats from FIFA.
A failure to account for the use of funds led the governing body to suspend grants to the NFF in 2015.
CAF denies audit allegations
African football governing body rejects claims of fraudulent transactions
The Confederation of African Football [CAF], has said the findings of an audit that concluded it was unreliable and untrustworthy are “unfounded”.
Details of the audit, by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), came out during the week. The audit questioned the body’s accounting, its governance, and its payments, which it found to be “unreliable and not trustworthy,” amongst its findings.
The audit also highlighted transactions totaling more than $20m (£15.4m) which either have “little or no supporting documentation” or were considered “higher risk”.
CAF released a statement addressing the audit and what it claims are “unfounded allegations contained in the report,” following an Executive Committee meeting in Doha on Friday.
It said officials from PwC were invited to the meeting but had “failed to make it.”
The statement specifically sought to address three areas in which questions had been raised: support payments made for the funerals of “individuals who have served African football”; the use of development funds linked to the FIFA Forward project; a deal with the little-known gym equipment maker Tactical Steel to supply sportswear.
CAF said the funeral payments were “acts of solidarity in support of families”, specifically naming the family of senior Kenyan football official Hussein Swaleh, who died in the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines plane crash.
It also said the use of FIFA Forward funds had been “strictly governed by procedures set by FIFA.” PwC’s audit had reviewed just under $10m of FIFA Forward payments to CAF and found only five of the 40 payments “appeared to be aligned to purpose” while the rest, totaling some $8.3m, either had “little or no supporting documentation” or were considered “unusual/higher risk”.
The Tactical Steel deal, into which the PwC report recommended an investigation, was also addressed, though CAF said only that “the procedures are before various jurisdictions” and that it was “ready to provide the relevant justification for the matter as previously authorized by the CAF Executive Committee.”
Mali’s Moussa Marega suffers racist abuse
FC Porto striker walked off the pitch after he was subjected to racist abuse from opposition fans
Mali international Moussa Marega walked off the pitch midway through his side’s win at Vitoria Guimaraes, saying he was subjected to racist abuse from fans.
The former Esperance de Tunis forward started to walk towards the exit in the 69th minute, nine minutes after scoring what would prove the winner in Porto’s 2-1 victory.
He pointed his thumbs down and also raised his middle fingers to the crowd.
Team-mates and opposition players tried to persuade him to stay on, but he was eventually substituted.
Marega in an Instagram post, said the home supporters “who come to the stadium to make racist screams” were “idiots”.
Coach of FC Porto, Sergio Conceicao said: “We are a family regardless of nationality, skin colour, hair colour. We are human, we deserve respect. What happened here is unfortunate.
“We are completely indignant about what happened. I know the passion that exists for Vitoria and I think most of the fans do not see themselves in the same attitude of some people who have insulted Moussa since the warm-up.”
Porto’s match report on their website described it as “a sad situation that should make the Guimaraes club and Portuguese football blush with shame”.
Team-mates including Alex Telles, Sergio Oliveira and Ivan Marcano all tried to stop Marega walking off the pitch, grabbing the Malian player around the waist – but he pushed everyone aside on his way to the tunnel.
Marega spent the 2016-17 campaign on loan at Vitoria, scoring 15 goals in 25 games.
Kaizer Chiefs to appeal FIFA transfer ban
PSL club banned from signing players in the next two transfer windows
South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs have announced that they will lodge an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in accordance to article 58 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes.
This move comes after the FIFA Disciplinary Committee banned Amakhosi from signing any new players in the next two transfer windows.
The ban was imposed by the world football governing body after Fosa Juniors of Madagascar logged a complaint stating that midfielder Andriamirado ‘Dax’ Andrianarimanana had signed a contract with them before moving to the Absa Premiership giants in 2018.
Chiefs and ‘Dax’ dispute this claim, but were found guilty nonetheless. Chiefs were duly banned from signing any new players in the next two transfer windows, while they have also been ordered according to Times Live to pay Fosa Juniors R640,000 in compensation, plus interest.
Dax has been suspended for four months and will duly miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season as things stand.
The 28-year-old managed just 16 appearances for Chiefs before joining Black Leopards on-loan in August.
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