By Eseoghene Emuke
Youths in Delta State have warned some powerful individuals within the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government including the immediate past minister of sports, Solomon Dalung to stay clear of Amaju Pinnick-led board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) or have them to contend with.
The youths drawn from the various ethnic groups in the state particularly frowned at ongoing plots to humiliate and sack the NFF board headed by Pinnick as president over alleged misappropriation of money belonging to football governing body.
Pinnick hails from Itsekiri ethnic nationality in Delta State. He was also the former chairman of Delta Football Association and Commissioner for Sports under the administration of former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
The NFF President and four others including NFF Secretary, Sunusi Mohammed; the 1st Vice-President, Seyi Akinwumi; the 2nd Vice-President, Shehu Dikko and an Executive member, Yusuff Fresh are standing trails over alleged misappropriation of $8,400,000 belonging to the football body.
They were dragged to court by the Federal Government had through the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property on 17-count charge in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019, at an Abuja Federal High Court.
Their failure to appear in court on Monday led Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja Federal High Court to issued a bench warrant of arrest on NFF President, Pinnick and four other officials of the body.
But the youths in a statement signed by Messrs Eric Omare (President, IYC), Weyinmi Agbateyiniro (President, Itsekiri National Youth Council), Festus Otesiri7 (President, Urhobo Youth Council), Ovie Umuakpo (President, Isoko National Youth Assembly) and Benjamin Onwubolu (President, Ndokwa Youth Movement), said the allegations against the NFF board were lies.
The statement issued on Tuesday in Warri noted, “A coalition of Niger Delta Youths under the aegis of Delta State Ethnic Nationalites Youth Leaders Forum has warned in strong terms all those behind one Harrison Jala and most particularly, the former Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, that the details of all their clandestine plots to undermine the good work that the Amaju led NFF has done to enhance and advance the development of football in Nigeria is being carefully collated and shall be met with stiff resistance if they do not desist from their actions.
“We state that the campaign of calumny against the NFF boss and all members of his team is because those behind the evil plot could not manipulate the Amaju led NFF board to make the NFF funds meant for the advancement and development of football available to them for the purpose of squandering same amongst the very few cabals, hence they have resulted to all forms of blackmail.
“To achieve their clandestine plot, they have employed the media which has failed woefully since the truth about all the allegations they raised against the Amaju Pinnick led NFF board is already in the public domain.
“At the realisation that they couldn’t use the media to achieve their aim they resulted to writing petitions to all relevant agencies in this regard and when this also failed, they have now taken to the judiciary which is the most appropriate place to get justice if they truly believe they are on a just cause.”
They added that, “No one in NFF today that is familiar with the workings of the current NFF board led by Amaju Pinnick that is not aware that since November,2014 and with the approval of members in the General Assembly (Congress),the Amaju Pinnick led NFF board has engaged and maintained till date,the services of globally reputable financial advisory firms like Price Water House Coopers(PwC) as independent External Auditors and, Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) as financial advisors and with both firms granting all financial transactions of the Amaju Pinnick led board a clean bill of health after thorough auditing.
“The question in the lips of all sports lovers all over the country therefore has been who is shouting wolf when in the actual sense, there is none or is it that someone is trying to be holier than the Pope?
“For those who do not know,Amaju Pinnick in the past over 12 consecutive years has carve a niche for himself in football administration in Nigeria and beyond and as Niger Deltans,he is an asset and a role model and so,we would not allow fifth7 columnist to destroy his good work and reputation under the guise of fighting corruption. We7 have nothing against calling public officers to account but such a call should not be used to promote personal political and economic interest.
“We call on the sponsors of the campaign of calumny to stop the pull him down syndrome. We are therefore for the very last time issuing this as a last warning to all those involved to stay clear of Amaju Pinnick led NFF board or we shall exposed them and their sponsors in the days ahead. A word is enough for the wise.”