By James Anaana
Relief came the way of the former President of Nigeria Football Assocation, NFF, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi who has been standing trial for eight years on charges of corruption while in office. In a landmark judgment recently in Abuja, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered on February 22, 2016 by Justice E. S. Chukwu which dismissed a “no-case-submission” filed by Alhaji Abdullahi , a former President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in the corruption charge brought against him and three others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Justice Ahmad Belgore in his judgment, said: “This appeal has merit and the judgment of the Federal High Court, delivered on February 22, 2016 is hereby set aside and the appellant, Sani Abdullahi Lulu, discharged and acquitted.”
Justice Belgore said the case was an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Maitama Division delivered by Justice E.S. Chukwu on February 22, 2016 wherein the Appellants suit of a ‘no-case-submission’ was dismissed on the ground that the defendants were bound by the Public Procurement Act, PPA, and as such should defend themselves in the charges leveled against them by the EFCC.
Lulu and three others, Amanze Uchegbulam, a former first vice president of NFF; Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, a former executive committee member and NFF former secretary-general, Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba were arraigned on September 6, 2010, for alleged misappropriation of funds without giving proper accounts of how the money was spent during the South Africa 2010 World Cup.
Lulu and his co-accused among other things were also accused of flouting due process in the purchase of two Marcopolo buses for the national teams.
While, the appeals of Amanze Uchegbulam and Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, Sani Lulu’s co accused are still pending at the Court of Appeal, the fourth accused person, Bolaji Ojo-Oba, erstwhile general secretary of NFF, had earlier been discharged acquitted by the Court of Appeal.
Reacting to the judgment, Alhaji Lulu thanked God Almighty for vindicating him at last even though he had to stand for as long as eight years to get justice.
“I know the physical and mental stress I went through with members of my family, but I have cause to thank God Almighty and the country’s judiciary for serving as the last hope of the voiceless.”
His counsel, Barrister Patrick Okolo, SAN, said he was happy and fulfilled that the former NFF leader got justice at last.
He said although the case dragged over time because of “Nigerian system” he expressed delight that justice prevailed at last.