Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday dismissed an application for a “no-case-submission’’ filed by a former President, Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Sani Lulu, in a corruption charge against him.
A “no case submission’’ is a legal argument put to a court at the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, whereby a defendant seeks acquittal without having to present a defense.
Justice Evoh Chukwu, dismissed the application in a ruling delivered yesterday at the resumed trial of Lulu.
Sani Lulu and three others are facing trial in an eight-count charge bordering on mismanagement of N1.3 billion while in office. The judge held:
“The defendants are bound by the Public Procurement Act, PPA, and as such should defend themselves in the charge levelled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. “Let me on equivocal term say that NFA or NFF, which manages football in Nigeria, enjoys the patronage of the Federal Government either collectively or through the National Sports Commission.
“The NFF status is not an Act of the National Assembly, but it must be subject to the laws of Nigeria. “This is particularly in a case where the money being expended is tax payers’ money and not one of a limited liability company. “The provision of section 60 of the Public Procurement Act, PPA, covers NFF and having said that, it followed that all the defendants are bound by the provisions of the PPA’’.
On the argument that the third accused person, Bolaji Ojo-Oba, had no case to answer as he was not a board member of the NFF, the Judge said that the General Secretary “has much to answer’’.
Justice Evoh said this was evident where the NFF statute bestows on the General Secretary, all the administrative work of the secretariat. “By the provision of the law, the third defendant might be privy to the dealings of the NFF in normal situation. “It is obvious that the third accused is an active member of the NFF and does not need to be a board member to have been charged with other accused persons,’’ he said.
The Judge, however, said that he could only determine the true position of the matter when the accused persons enter their defense.
He subsequently dismissed the application and adjourned till March 9, for the accused persons to open their defense.
In a reaction, Mr. Patrick Okolo (SAN), the lead counsel to the four accused persons, said the decision of the court to overrule them was a natural course of justice. “We made a case that the accused persons have no case to answer, but the Judge has overruled us and what he is saying is that they need to react to evidence given by the prosecution.
“The next step is for us to call our witnesses to give evidence or to react to the evidence given by the prosecution. “This will give us opportunity to state our own side of the story and we already have our four witnesses ready’ he said.
The co-accused in the trial are; Amanze Uchegbulam, a former first Vice President of NFF; Taiwo Ogunjobi, a former executive committee member and Ojo Oba, a former Secretary-General.
The accused persons were said to have committed the offences while in office between 2006 and 2010.
The charges included “unauthorised payment of estacodes/allowances of 800,000 dollars to 220 delegates to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as against the 47 delegates approved for the trip’’.
They were also alleged of “mismanaging N900m World Cup funds belonging to the NFF and the purchase of luxury buses for the Super Eagles at over-inflated prices.
They were also charged with incurring a $125,000 fine in South Africa over a botched deal with a hotel.

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