Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency has seized property belonging to Shehu Dikko, who was the vice-president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) until last month.
The house in the capital Abuja is one of several properties seized in the past by former NFF officials, including chairman Amaju Pinnick, during a wide-scale corruption investigation in 2019.
The Independent Corruption and Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) confirmed the seizure of Dikko’s assets in an advertisement published in two national newspapers.
“The Commission is of the opinion based on the aforementioned investigation that this immovable property belonging to Mr. Shehu Dikko is excessive, taking into account his present and past earnings and all other circumstances,” the ICPC statement said.
Back in 2019, the ICPC told BBC Sport Africa that it was looking into a wide range of claims about how money earmarked for football development had allegedly disappeared.
Dikko, who became the vice president of the NFF in 2015 and who doubles as a former chairman of the Nigerian Premier League (LMC), hit back, with his legal representatives saying the allegations leveled against their client have no evidence that a crime took place.
“This unfair media trial has been going on since 2019 when the ICPC published newspaper notices to seize the assets of my client and his associates without a court order to support the seizure of my client’s assets nor calling our clients to explain,” Mohammed said. Sani Katu.
“We immediately chose ICPC and they called our client to provide documents for the properties and he honored and provided all the evidence to show that all his assets are legal.
“Basically, the fact is that my client owns the properties long before he joined the NFF in 2015,” Katu told BBC Sport Africa.
Katu insists the case should have been dropped by now, after he said the ICPC case was removed from the courtrooms two years ago.
“In March 2020, the ICPC went to court to request that the case be withdrawn as it was unable to provide any evidence of the properties it says were illegally acquired,” Katu continued.
“The court duly disposed of the matter on March 4, 2020. That should have put an end to the whole matter.
“The court clearly confirmed that all properties were owned long before our client arrived at NFF and no material facts or prima facie evidence was adduced.”
An apology was made
The NFF, which receives its funding from the Nigerian government, has often been the subject of research as various anti-graft agencies investigate how money intended for football development allegedly disappeared.
A source at the ICPC said the agency was still investigating Pinnick, former first vice president of NFF Seyi Akinwunmi, board member Yusuf Ahmed Fresh and general secretary Mohammed Sanusi.
Although the quintet always denied any wrongdoing, the ICPC said it remains determined as it searches for one of the country’s leading football personalities.
But Katu insists that Dikko’s client, a businessman and managing director of an investment, finance and project development company, wants the ICPC to close the matter once and for all.
“The ICPC has gone to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to try to confirm whether our client has declared his assets, with the CCB ruling that our client is not a public servant/official and therefore not required by the constitution to declare assets for membership in the executive committee of the NFF.
“Therefore, ICPC has nothing to do with my client’s assets.
“It is clear under the NFF constitution that to be a member of the executive committee of the NFF, the person must have an alternative means of livelihood like the NFF [role] it is purely part-time and not a paid salary.
“So my client is allowed to go about his private business and build his wealth while on the executive committee of the NFF.”
An ICPC spokesman said the agency would not engage Dikko and his legal representatives, who want an apology, in the media over this particular case.
Meanwhile, Sanusi and Ahmed Fresh retained their roles in the NFF while Dikko and Akinwunmi both failed in their bid to replace Pinnick as the NFF president in last week’s election.