Pinnick denies planning media attacks on Buhari

By Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

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President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, has expressed shock at a report in a section of the media, which claimed that he had attacked President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Hon Sunday Dare, over a perceived aspiration for a third term.

In a report apparently syndicated, the FIFA Council Member was alleged to be on a “spending spree” in the media to “tarnish the image of the Minister and also undermine Mr President’s authority to speak about Nigerian football,” without any instance given or any quote attributed to Mr. Pinnick.

He had been allegedly fingered in a plot to launch a campaign of calumny against Buhari and Dare following their insistence that the September Congress to elect new national executives into the country’s football governing body must hold.

In June, Buhari wrote to the NFF to start all the necessary steps towards holding the September Congress, adding that the statutes be amended to accommodate all football stakeholders. Following the above, the sports ministry last month met with all the aggrieved parties, who had dragged the NFF to court to obtain an exparte order depriving the nation’s football governing body from holding its September Congress in 2022.

According to a plaintiff, Mr Seigha Obiene, a board member of Nembe City FC, who in 2021 approached a Federal High Court, Bayelsa State Judicial Division with suit number FHC/ YNG/CS/133/2021, five members of the NFF Congress, who were part of the Elective Congress in Katsina in 2018 participated illegally in the elections.

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He asked the court to declare the elections null and void. Suspecting that Pinnick is covertly working to see how he could extend his stay in office beyond 2022, using his relationship with the world football governing to achieve his goal and relying on the pending ex-parte order before a competent of jurisdiction in Bayelsa State, the sports ministry meddled in.

It appealed that the ex-parte order be withdrawn. Pinnick was allegedly angered by the strides achieved by the ministry in ensuring that September Congress holds and his plans to extend his stay beyond office thwarted. Consequently, the NFF president has allegedly set up a media team to run a campaign of calumny against Buhari and the minister.

According to the report, Pinnick has informed his media mercenaries to be on standby to run amok on various platforms to tarnish the image of the President and Dare, while raising sentiments against the duo and possibly invoke a ban on football activities as was done to basketball before the decision was rescinded by Buhari.

However, on Tuesday, Pinnick in a statement, said: “This is a clear case of a dirty campaign. I have never given any interview or motivated any media person to write anything about the President’s directives or to insult the Honourable Minister.

“As I speak, we are making arrangements to hold the Annual General Assembly once the court communicates to our attorney the Notice of Discontinuance of the two cases that have been delaying the convocation of the Congress. “I could have kept quiet over this kind of silly campaign but it is important to put the record straight and also, I have the highest regards for the person of His Excellency, President Buhari, the Government and its institutions.

This is a hatchet job, and such can always happen in political times. The campaigners have failed woefully.” Pinnick, who is at the ongoing Women Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, said he was ready to return fire for fire with purveyors of falsehood and half truths, whether they operate day or night, or on legacy or social media.

“It is time to give it in full measure to those who hawk blatant falsehood and spend their days and nights planning evil. It will no longer be business as usual. “President Buhari has remained an amazing father and lover of Nigeria Football and the National Teams. None of these dirty campaigns by disgruntled persons and haters can have any impact,” the NFF President added.

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