Nigerian football chief Amaju Pinnick and the office of Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari have debunked reports that the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has been arrested and to be prosecuted.
There have been reports that Pinnick has been arrested and placed on a travel ban and set to be prosecuted by President Buhari over cases of financial mismanagement.
The NFF boss, however, took to his Twitter to debunk the reports and allay fears over his handling of the federation’s finances.
“Good afternoon Nigeria. My attention has just been drawn to a publication by an online media organisation about a travel ban placed on me and an intending prosecution,” Pinnick said on Twitter on Sunday, January 6.
“Ironically, it comes on the heels of my trip to Accra, Ghana yesterday for a meeting between the Nigeria Football Federation and CAF partners, AITEO. I also have official engagements coming up in Senegal. In other words; no such ban is in place and no security agency has gotten in touch."
The NFF boss went on to explain that the NFF had recently made public their audited accounts to be transparent about the federation’s dealings.
“The @thenff recently published its audited accounts in ThisDay Newspapers & Daily Trust on Thursday the 20th of December, 2018 and on Tuesday the 25th of December, 2018 in The Vanguard Newspapers,” Pinnick continued.
“In effect, our finances are open for anyone to see. All incomes from the Federal Government, FIFA & CAF, since 2014 are reflected. Before my appointment into the FIFA committees, I had to pass through intense integrity and eligibility tests. I was not found wanting. Two years ago, FIFA handed @thenff a clean bill of health in our financial management. Our accounts are audited by PwC the same firm that audits FIFA.
“So it is quite laughable whenever these stories come out. And they come out, without fail, regularly, and from the same sources. Well, I'll be talking to my lawyers to see what legal redress I can get, but it would be nice if our media houses investigated these things before publishing.
“I might not know every journalist in Nigeria, but I do know a few in just about every media house in the country. When these unfounded stories hit, it's our football that suffers.
“Sponsors and perspective sponsors become wary of and about doing business with us. Surely we can be responsible about our reports? I'm hoping the more responsible media outlets will disregard these reports while assuring our partners and prospective partners that we are serious about taking our football upwards.”
Further debunking the reports, the office of the President released a statement to deny that Buhari has ordered the arrest and prosecution of Pinnick.
“A press release in circulation in the last 24 hours, to the effect that President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the arrest and prosecution of Amaju Pinnick, the NFF Chairman, is fake news because anyone familiar with the President’s unmitigated and unshakable commitment to the due processes of the law will not make such assumptions of the President,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu said in the statement.
“The position of the President that allegations of criminal nature should be addressed only by investigation and law enforcement agencies, within the framework of the law has not changed.
“It is not in the nature of President Buhari to say go and arrest that man or woman as formed the practice in the past.
“Rather, he allows all allegations of this nature to be addressed using the mechanism of the rule of law even as law enforcement and investigation agencies should not in any way be hampered in performing their duties.
“At the same time, nobody should drop names to seek to influence the course of those investigations.”
NFF boss Pinnick has had to deal with reports of financial appropriation from him although he has always enjoyed the backing of world football's governing body.
He is just a few months into his second term as President of the NFF after winning his election in September 2018.