November 21 – Just days after an official anti-corruption government investigation into Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick – once the second most powerful figure in African football – and four other officials was dropped, Pinnick himself has lashed out at the authorities for being entirely to blame for the ongoing problems on and off the pitch saying his federation has had to operate in a “toxic and disruptive environment.”
The case brought by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP) focussed on Pinnick, NFF vice presidents Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko as well as general secretary Mohammed Sanusi and executive committee member Ahmed Yusuf.
It was made up of 16 charges ranging from failure to declare assets to the alleged disappearance of $8.4 million paid by FIFA to Nigeria for participation in the 2014 World Cup but was dismissed at the High Court on Tuesday following the dissolution of the SPIP itself in September.
The case was doomed to collapse once Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the end of the SPIP following allegations of corruption against its own chairman Okoi Obono-Obla.
All five officials always denied any wrongdoing and back in June Pinnick blasted Nigerian authorities for attempting to push him out of office, insisting he would stand his ground and not give in to “sociopaths”.
Now, responding to a call by the Nigerian sports minister to explain “several failures” by Nigerian teams – notably the under-17 and under-20s sides who suffered round of 16 exits at their respective World Cups and the team of locally-based players failed to qualify for the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) – Pinnick issued a hard-hitting 15-page statement on the issues facing the federation.
“Issues of funding (inadequacy and late release of same) and the toxic and disruptive environment in which the NFF has had to operate for the past 18 months (with the Federation’s leadership and brand falsely and maliciously dragged from one investigative agency to the other and from one court to the other on same baseless allegations) are the core reasons for the poor outings of the Super Falcons, CHAN Eagles, Golden Eaglets and Olympic Eagles in recent international matches/tournaments,” an NFF statement said.
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