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NFF crisis: Court fixes June 9 to hear appeal discharging Pinnick, others

A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed June 9 to hear a motion to grant leave to appeal against the ruling discharging and acquitting Amaju Pinnick and others in a criminal charge filed against them.

Amaju Pinnick

A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed June 9 to hear a motion to grant leave to appeal against the ruling discharging and acquitting Amaju Pinnick and others in a criminal charge filed against them.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who fixed the date, said he would hear the motion on notice in the next adjourned date.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Pinnick is the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and a FIFA council member.

When the case was called, Justice Ekwo asked counsel to the applicants, Dr Celsius Ukpong, to inform the court what the application was all about.

And after listening to Ukpong’s reason for filing the motion, the judge said he would listen to the lawyer formally on June 9.

NAN reports that the court had, on Feb. 3, fixed today, March 29, to hear the motion.

NAN reports that the Chairman of, the National Footballers Association of Nigeria, Harrison Jalla and staff of the association, Tunde Aderibigbe, filed the motion with suit number FHC/ABJ/ CR/93/2019.

Others listed in the motion include the Federal Republic of Nigeria as complainant/respondent; Sunusi Mohammed, Seyi Akinwumi, Shehu Dikko, Amaju Melvin Pinnick as defendants/respondents and Yusuf Ahmed Fresh.

The applicants, in the motion, dated Dec. 16, 2020, and filed the same day by their lawyer, sought “an order of the court granting leave to appeal as interested parties against the ruling of this honourable court in charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019 discharging and acquitting the defendants in this matter.”

They said the motion was brought on the grounds that “at the day set for arraignment, the applicants and other aggrieved people were in court to testify after the arraignment.”

They argued that when the prosecutor who took over from the agency that filed the charge suddenly apply to withdraw the charge in order to study the file or whatever only for the learned trial judge to discharge and acquit the defendants without any proper arraignment and trial.

“The applicants/interested party in the matter, in the public interest, took a risk and make a lot of sacrifices to complain and gather a lot of evidence to try the defendants before the defendants were finally charged to court.

“The defendants have been using the ruling of the learned trial court as a shield successfully against further prosecution in the matter that is yet to be tried.

“The prosecutions have neglected/refused to appeal against this decision,” they said.

They stated that it was immaterial whether the prosecution was interested to prosecute the matter or not, stressed that the matter should not end without proper prosecution “where witnesses who are willing are not allowed to testify.”

According to them, the prosecution cannot agree with defence counsel to dismiss a charge and acquit the defendants not minding the implication of such an agreement.

“The interested parties/applicants were the nominal complainants and were acting in good faith and in the public interest to see to the end of this trial where both parties are heard before the case is determined.

“The complainant, Section 335 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) is referring to, is the nominal complainant and not the prosecuting counsel. See FRNV.ONONYE 2018 LPELR -45067.

“The complainants or victims of the offence did not compound this offence to warrant the prosecuting counsel to agree to withdraw the charge so as to entitle the defendants to acquittal. SEE PML. NIG LTD. V. FRN (2017) LPELR -43480(SC),” they averred.

In the draft notice of appeal, the appellants stated that they were dissatisfied with the decision of a FHC delivered by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on Nov. 5, 2019, in charge number FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019 wherein the defendants were discharged and acquitted.

In their grounds of appeal, they argued that Justice Ojukwu erred in law when she held that defendants have been discharged and acquitted for offences that have not been tried.

Besides, they also argued that the prosecuting counsel from the office of the Attorney-General took over the matter for the first time from an agency that filed the charge.

They said the Prosecution counsel decided to compound the offence without recourse to the primary complainant who was in court about to witness the trial, among others.

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