FIFA May Ban Nigeria Over Court Ruling That Sacked Pinnick as NFF President
Nigeria may be risking another ban from the world football governing body, FIFA, after a Federal High Court sitting in Jos on Friday annulled the September 30, 2014 election that brought in the present executive board of the Nigeria Football Federation led by Amaju Pinnick.
Justice Musa Kurya of the Jos High Court, re-listed the earlier withdrawn case filed by the plaintiffs, Senator Obinna Ogba and Yahaya Adama on Friday after both men had approached the court to re-list the earlier withdrawn case against the NFF.
The judge also ruled that the election of August 26, 2014 remained valid, hence identifying Chris Giwa as the president of the NFF. In October 2014, the same Federal High Court sitting before Justice Ambrose Allagoa had ruled against the election that brought the Pinnick-led board into the federation, saying it was not recognised.
Justice Allagoa said, “I have set aside all the proceedings and decisions of the Warri Extra Ordinary meeting of the 20th September and the Elective Congress of 30th September, which were direct contravention of the orders of this court as granted on September 19.”
Later in the same month, the case was struck out following an out-of-court settlement, which was presided over by former Nigeria President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, in the face of an impending FIFA suspension. After Giwa had withdrawn the case in October 2014, he headed for the Court of Arbitration for Sports, which threw out their case citing lack of adequate evidence.
But on Friday, Justice Kurya, having upheld all the previous reliefs of the plaintiffs, also ruled that Giwa should take charge as president of the football federation pending the final determination of the suit.
However, in a swift reaction, the Pinnick-led board filed an appeal and a stay-of-execution against the decision of the Federal High Court, Jos.
In a statement released on Friday, the NFF said since an appeal, a motion to vacate the order and a stay-of-execution had been filed, on the same day as the judgement, the status quo remained the same.
The NFF 1st vice-president, Seyi Akinwunmi, described the situation as a sad one, adding that the board was still in control.
“This is a sad one primarily because we have enjoyed a period of peace and have been able to work without the court-today-court-tomorrow situation of the last half of 2014,” Akinwunmi said.
“We have filed for stay-of-execution and that means the status quo remains and anything done is done at the actors’ peril. I can assure football–loving Nigerians that there is no reason to panic as we are in full charge and there is no trouble whatsoever.
“There is no order for the Giwa group to take over the Glass House. In fact many of his so-called board members have called to dissociate themselves from the matter.”
With this latest development, which is coming three months after the sports minister, Solomon Dalung, had called a reconciliatory meeting between the Giwa and Pinnick camps, there are now fears among Nigerians that the country could be faced with sanctions from FIFA.
The FIFA rule, which states that national football associations must not be subjected to government control and that football matters be settled in the Court of Arbitration for Sports only, appears to have been broken once again by the country.
If the lingering issue is not settled soon, a FIFA ban will mean that football lovers in the country would be denied access to see the Nigerian Olympic football team in action. The Super Falcons as well as the other age-grade teams would also be affected by the sanction.
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