Nigeria Football Federation returned from the FIFA World Cup and plunged into a deadlock yesterday as Chris Giwa and Amaju Pinnick, are locked in a ‘fight’ over who is the authentic president of the NFF.
Giwa, accompanied by a host of cronies, arrived the NFF offices at about 12.00pm to enforce a Supreme court ruling, which voided the election of Mr. Pinnick.
But in a swift reaction Mr. Pinnick, insisted that he was still the president of the NFF declaring that the directive by the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung for Giwa to take over the NFF headquarters, is null and void. Speaking through NFF lawyer Mr. Festus Keyamo, Pinnick argued that court orders are non binding on the NFF.
“The attention of our clients has been drawn to a statement purportedly issued at the behest of the Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, directing the NFF to comply with certain court orders effecting a change of leadership in the NFF.
“Our clients wish to alert the general public and the authorities in Nigeria that the so-called directive by the Minister of Sports is null, void and of no effect for the following reasons.
“Whilst our clients respect the sanctity of court orders, unfortunately the said court orders are not binding on FIFA, the World Football Governing Body. The NFF is an affiliate of FIFA. It should be noted that FIFA has consistently maintained that this same matter has been taken to the highest Court of Sports Arbitration in Switzerland by these same individuals and they have lost. FIFA is only bound by the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sports AND DOES NOT ENTERTAIN OR TOLERATE decisions by local courts in footballing nations worldwide. Hence, FIFA has since upheld the decision of the Court of Arbitration on this matter and recognized the NFF Board led by Amaju Pinnick. Nigeria has a duty to comply with that decision.
“The end result is that Chris Giwa and his so-called Board members do not have any locus standi with regards to footballing matters and the Federal Government CANNOT have any dealing with them on any footballing matter.
Further more the statement by Mr. Keyamo added. “The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, a few weeks ago, having studied the Supreme Court judgment has already advised (by a letter dated 13th June, 2018) that the matter is subjudice, and that Government cannot intervene at this point. He advised all parties to await the FINAL DETERMINATION of the case. However, in a desperate attempt to assume office at all cost, Chris Giwa sneaked back to court to obtain these ex-parte (one-sided) orders prompting the office of the Attorney-General to issue yet another advice again dated June 26, 2018, advising compliance to the court order.”
The long-running dispute over who is in charge of the NFF dates back to 2014. Two different congresses of the NFF emerge with Giwa elected by one congress in Abuja, while the second congress held in Warri elected Pinnick. However, FIFA endorsed Pinnick’s election leaving Giwa to battle for redress in the courts. FIFA statutes dictate that member states should “manage their affairs independently with no influence from third parties”.
It has previously warned Nigeria that if implemented, court rulings would likely be considered to be an interference in the NFF’s internal affairs, which could attract sanctions. Nigeria has previously been banned for government interference in the running of the NFF.
The country’s under-20 team is currently preparing for the under-20 World Cup in France in August. The senior men’s side, the Super Eagles, who crashed out of the World Cup in the group stages, start the qualifying campaign for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in September.