NFF crisis: FIFA’s hammer may descend on Nigeria soon

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Barely any last minute change, the Federation of International Football Association’s, FIFA, hammer may descend on Nigeria again following a statement purportedly issued at the behest of the Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung directing the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF to comply with certain court orders effecting a change of leadership in the NFF.

FIFA has made it clear that its activities are not subject to any local court, as the Court of Sports Arbitration in Switzerland is its highest body in determining matters relating to football in any country.

But a release by Festus Keyamo, solicitor to the Amaju Pinnick and the present Board of the NFF, has warned of the impending danger which might lead to FIFA’s ban on Nigeria from taking part in any international football fiesta.

According to Keyamo, his client, Pinnick has alerted the general public and the authorities in Nigeria that the so-called directive by the Minister of Sports was null, void and of no effect as the said court orders were not binding on FIFA, the World Football Governing Body, in view of the fact that 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. In addition, for the indiscretion of those individuals like Chris Giwa to approach the local courts, FIFA has since imposed a worldwide ban on them from all footballing activities,” he said.

Keyamo warned that the end result is that Chris Giwa and his so-called Board members did not have any locus standi with regards to footballing matters and that the Federal Government could not have any dealing with them on any footballing matter.

He added that the obvious implication of all these was that if any attempt is made to recognize Chris Giwa and derecognize Amaju Pinnick and his Board, FIFA would definitely impose a lengthy ban on Nigeria from all football competitions locally and internationally and that it would spell doom for Nigerian Football.

“The immediate casualties of this ban would be (a) The Falconets who have qualified and are scheduled to participate in the Under-20 Female World Cup in July, 2018 (b) The final phases of the AFCON Qualifiers for the Super Eagles scheduled for August/September, 2018 (c) The Super Falcons defending their title in December in Ghana (d) No Nigerian Club side would be allowed to participate in the Continental Championships and (e) the future of all Nigerian players based in Nigeria would be in jeopardy as no Nigerian player would be allowed to be sold or transferred to any club anywhere in the world,’ he said.

Keyamo said his clients had taken steps to vacate the orders given by the Federal High Court in Jos, saying it should be noted that the said orders were given ex-parte (one-sided), as no other person was served with court processes, and that it should also be noted that the orders were given against Pinnick and his Board members (who are not parties to the case and were never served) and in favour of Chris Giwa (who is also not a party to the case).

“Besides, these orders are to last for only fourteen (14) days as provided by the Rules of Court. Our clients state these facts as they are in order to inform the public of the nature of the orders given without meaning to denigrate the authority of the court. 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. Finally, our clients also urge restraint and caution because the substantive matter is pending in court and has not been fully determined.

“Our clients have also taken steps to set aside these orders. Therefore, it is important that the government awaits the full and final determination of the entire matter. It may be the contention of Chris Giwa and his so-called Board that the Rule of Law must be obeyed which means an immediate enforcement of the one-sided (ex-parte) orders. However, Nigeria is also bound to abide, recognize and enforce the decisions of the Courts of Arbitration for Sports which have since dismissed the case of Chris Giwa and his so-called Board, and affirmed Amaju Pinnick and his Board as the authentic leadership of the NFF.