With the president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Pinnick away in Russia on FIFA duties at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Nigerian football descended into chaos on Monday, July 2.
Just like a script of a movie about a coup, self-acclaimed leader of the NFF Chris Giwa on Monday, stormed the Glass House-which is what the NFF headquarters in Abuja is called-with some security agents to assume office as the substantive president of the NFF.
Giwa did this on the backing of the Federal Government through Sports Minister Solomon Dalung who directed the NFF to comply with a Supreme Court judgement that overturned the election of NFF president Pinnick.
In case we are going too fast, let’s go back to how this drag of a case started in the first place.
August 2014 Elections
The long-running drama between Pinnick and Giwa over who is the boss of the NFF dates back to August 2014 when an NFF election held in Abuja.
Giwa claimed that he won the election which FIFA did not recognise. The world football governing body then nullified the elections, threatening to ban Nigeria.
Several weeks later in September, another election held in Warri, Delta State which Pinnick won, beating the likes of Taiwo Ogunjobi, Dominic Iorfa, Amanze Uchegbulam and Mike Umeh.
These elections in Abuja and Warri have been the bane of Nigerian football in the past four tumultuous years.
Giwa claimed that the election which he won was the prescription of the Court of Arbitration in Sports (CAS).
FIFA did not recognise the result of the ballot, however, as current president Aminu Maigari was being held for questioning while the vote was taking place.
Although Giwa argued that the election that brought Pinnick in as NFF boss was also flawed it still had the backing of FIFA.
Giwa wasn’t however relenting, he announced himself as NFF boss which prompted the FIFA Emergency Committee to subsequently set a deadline to remove those claiming positions in the NFF that were not recognised by FIFA and restore the Maigari-led committee.
FIFA threatened that if those requirements were not met, the NFF would be suspended.
Giwa filed a suit against Pinnick’s NFF at the Federal high Court in Jos, insisting that the election in Warri was not legitimate.
Even the intervention of an Appeals Committee headed by Barrister Ajunwa with Mallam Sani Mohammed, Mr Dotun Coker, Mr Victor Nwangwu, Mr Bala Garba and the Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi could not resolve the issue.
Pinnick continued as President of the NFF while Giwa persisted with his claims.
Solomon Dalung steps in
When Muhammadu Buhari won the 2015 Presidential election, he appointed Solomon Dalung as Minister of Sports and one of his first tasks was to put the NFF in order.
But a meeting between Pinnick and Giwa ended with a scuffle between the two parties at the National Stadium Package on Wednesday, January 20, 2016.
The case filed by Giwa at the Federal High Court sitting in Jos was still on with a series of adjournment.
In April 2016, the Federal High Court nullified the September 30 election that voted in Pinnick as NFF boss, reinstating Giwa as the new boss.
Solicitors to Pinnick’s NFF argued that neither their client or Giwa are parties to the suit in Jos and therefore the ruling of the court was not valid.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria has held times without number that no court of law can issue an Order against a person that is not a party in a suit before a court without joining or hearing from that party and no court of law can also install a party in an office who is not before the court praying for such an order,” Human rights lawyer and counsel to Pinnick, Festus Keyamo said in a statement.
Reacting to the court order, FIFA then stepped in again, threatening to sanction Nigeria if Pinnick is removed as president.
As the disagreement got to a boiling point, police in anticipation for some acts of violence at the Glass House sealed the NFF office on Monday, April 2016.
It was later learnt that it was Sports Minister Dalung that called the police.
Some days later, Giwa as the factional leader took matters into his own hands, assumed duties as the ‘President’ of the NFF and announced the sack of all states football association.
In another move to settle this dispute, Sports Minister Dalung formed a reconciliation committee which was rejected by Giwa.
In another twist of events, the Pinnick’s NFF revealed that there was never an order from the Federal High Court in Jos that sacked him.
They shared a video of the Registrar of Federal High Court, Jos, Nasiru Gusau who denied any order removing Pinnick from office.
In the video, Gusau was seen holding a paper while confirming that he could not find any evidence of the ruling that sacked Pinnick.
“In all the orders made by this court, there is no place you see Amaju Pinnick was removed as NFF President,” the Registrar said.
In May 2016, Giwa was reportedly arrested while trying to force his way into the NFF secretariat.
Bans for Giwa
A disciplinary committee set up by the NFF in May 2016 announced a five-year ban for Giwa for illegally representing the federation.
That didn’t stop Giwa who continued to identify himself as the legitimate president of the NFF.
In June 2016, he and his group again stormed the Glass House where he harassed staff of the federation.
Also in June, the Federal High Court in Jos disowned the ‘writ of execution’ bandied by Giwa. According to the NFF, the Registrar of the Federal High Court, Jos, Gusau revealed that the document used by Giwa did not emanate from the court.
The House of Representatives stepped into the issue and its committee on Sports in June 2016 backed Pinnick as the president of the NFF.
FIFA Extends Giwa’s ban
In a blow for his tussle for the NFF presidency, FIFA in June 2017 extended Giwa’s ban from football to 10 years.
A couple of days later, the Supreme Court dismissed Giwa’s notion against the NFF and fined him N100, 000 as he continued to lose on all front.
After a long halt to the tussle, the Giwa faction returned in April 2018 with a report that the Supreme Court had ousted Pinnick as NFF boss, a report that was quickly dismissed.
It was good again until this week when the Federal Government through the Sports Minister Dalung sacked Pinnick from his office and ordered Giwa to be reinstated as NFF boss.
Nigeria risk FIFA ban
FIFA have continued to insist that they did not back the election that voted Giwa as president of NFF and continue to back Pinnick who is in Russia on duties at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.