September 18 – In a fresh corruption probe, Nigerian authorities have seized a dozen properties from senior officials of its football federation, including the president Amaju Pinnick, until a few months ago the second most powerful figure in African football.
Reports said the latest investigation targeting senior officials of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), accused of laundering millions of dollars, is being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).
The body took over 12 properties – half of them belonging to Pinnick, including one in London. They also apparently belong to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and general secretary Mohammed Sanusi.
The NFF has been blighted by accusations of corruption for decades, but the Nigerian government has always backed off taking action within the federation over fear of a public backlash.
But ICPC spokesperson Rasheedat Okoduwa said “many officials of the NFF are under investigation. What they have is in excess of what they have earned.”NFF bosses led by Pinnick are already under three separate corruption probes, including a 17-count charge including failure to declare assets and embezzling $8.4 million paid to the federation by FIFA.
In a separate case, Pinnick, general secretary Sanusi and three NFF accountants have also been charged over an alleged theft of over $10 million in grants from both FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF), meant for the development of football in Nigeria. The NFF has branded the investigations a “witch-hunt”.
In July, CAF removed Pinnick as its senior vice president, replacing him with South Africa’s Danny Jordaan, as part of a purge by under-fire CAF president Ahmad Ahmad. Pinnick, who retained his position on CAF’s executive committee, was perceived to plotting his own run on the CAF presidency following Ahmad’s detention in France by police as part of their investigation into CAF’s commercial practices. Pinnick has denied his intention was to oust Ahmad.
Pinnick’s own case has been largely pushed into the background amid ongoing coverage of Ahmad’s conduct as CAF leader. But back in June he blasted Nigerian authorities for attempting to push him out of office, insisting he would stand his ground and not give in to “sociopaths”.
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