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Ekeji testifies in alleged corruption charges against former NFA officials

Former Director-General, National Sports Commission (NSC), Chief Patrick Ekeji, Tuesday, distanced the commission from a letter purportedly from the Ministry of Works granting the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) request to purchase two luxurious buses.

Ekeji’s action came at the continuation of his cross-examination in connection with the corruption charges against former NFA bigwigs at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Sani Lulu, Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Taiwo Ogunjobi, former NFA Chairman, Secretary-General and board member, respectively are facing corruption charges on account of their stewardship while in office.

Amanze Uchegbulam, a former NFA Vice Chairman, is also among those answering charges brought against the four persons by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the court.

Ekeji, who denied any knowledge of an approval letter from the ministry approving a request by the NFA, noted that the letter might have been secured after he left office in April 2013.

He pointed out that the letter if truly secured was not secured as at the time it was needed.

Lulu’s Counsel, Sunday Ameh, who cross-examined Ekeji, asked if he was aware the NFA approached the Ministry of Works for professional advice to ensure good condition and the status of the buses.

Ameh also asked Ekeji if he was aware that he was in the court as a witness following a petition written to the EFCC by one Ray Nnaji but Ekeji responded that he was not aware of the claim.

Ekeji explained that the matter was brought to court following a petition written by the then Minister of Sports Isa Bio, to the president, which was forwarded to the EFCC.

On cancellation of Hampshire Hotel reservation of the Super Eagles for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Ekeji said the commission officials only knew about the hotel when they got to South Africa.

The former director-general also said the cancellation was necessitated by the security risk associated with the hotel, especially as it was not in the FIFA’s list of approved hotels for the 2010 World Cup.

Ameh, who spoke after the court sitting, said they had made substantial progress in the matter.

“The cross-examination of the second witness has advanced to an appreciable level, adding that the matter continues tomorrow. So, I am sure we should be able to conclude all matters concerning the second witness tomorrow. If the prosecution had been up and doing like this in the past, I am sure we would have gotten this matter behind us long ago,’’ Ameh said.

The former NFA officials were arraigned on an eight-count charge of misappropriation of the 2010 World Cup funds and the purchase of two Marcopolo luxurious buses without following due process.

They are also charged with the distribution of World Cup tickets, paying estacode (foreign exchange allowances) to 220 Nigerians who went to watch the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, among others.

Lulu, accused of misappropriating two billion naira, had maintained that he left N2.8 billion in NFA coffers when he was impeached by the NFA board on June 2, 2010.

The case, which has been on trial from July 2010, was however, adjourned to May 13, by the presiding judge, Justice Evoh Chukwu, for further cross-examination.

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