The Sports Committee of the House of Representatives of Nigeria, on Thursday insisted that there is no crisis in the Nigeria Football Federation NFF, as there is no dispute whatsoever that Mr. Amaju Pinnick remains the President of the nation’s football body.
At an interactive session with top officials of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports led by the Youth and Sports Minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung and chieftains of the NFF led by second Vice President/LMC chairman Shehu Dikko, the House Committee headed by Hon. Goni Bukar Lawan expressed concern that a group led by Mr. Chris Giwa had been threatening the peace of Nigeria football and courting a FIFA sanction for the country.
The House Committee’s move followed a motion of ‘urgent national importance’ moved on the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday, 16th May 2016, and the nation’s lower parliament thereafter mandated its Sports Committee to handle the matter.
At Thursday’s session at the National Assembly, Barrister Dalung, the Director of Legal Services in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Barr. Olatigbe Johnson and the NFF’s Head of Legal, Barr. Okey Obi fully established that there is presently no court order nullifying the election of the current NFF Board, or asking Chris Giwa to take over at the NFF.
“When the Giwa group served a notice of discontinuance to the court in October 2014, the court struck out the case and made it clear that the case was dead. I don’t know anyone else who has been able to raise the dead except Jesus Christ!
“What the court did on April 8 was simply to re-list the case for hearing. It did not sack the NFF Board and certainly did not ask Giwa to go and take over the NFF,” Minister Dalung said.
Specifically, both Johnson and Obi read out the portion of the order made by Hon. Justice L. Allagoa, when the plaintiff withdrew the case in October 2014:
“The Plaintiff having withdrawn this suit; all the orders made previously including the dissolution of the executive committee/Board of the Nigerian Football Federation vide the order of this honourable Court dated 23rd day of October 2014 seizes to have life and this matter stands struck out.”
Additionally, Obi read out a clarification made by the Honourable Judge himself, dated 22nd April 2016: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Order referred to in Order 3 is the restoration of the Order made by my predecessor, my learned brother Hon. Justice L. Allagoa when he stated that Order 50 Rule 2 of the Federal High Court rules 2009”: The Plaintiff having withdrawn this suit, all Orders made previously including dissolution of the Executive Committee (Board of) Nigerian Football Federation vide the Order of this Honourable Court dated 23rd October 2014 seizes to have life and this matter stands struck out.”
NFF second Vice President/LMC chairman, Shehu Dikko, pointed out that in football, there are clear channels for dispute resolution, away from the ordinary court. He noted that Mr. Giwa had taken his case to the highest sports court – Court of Arbitration for Sports – and lost.
“If he had won at CAS, everyone in the Nigeria football family would have been obliged to submit to him. He lost. So, he should respect football rules and wait for the next elections.
“Some of the persons who took part in the ‘elections’ where Giwa claims to have been ‘elected’, also participated in the Warri elections that brought in Amaju Pinnick! Yet, some of them are strangely clinging to a ‘mandate’ supposedly given them alongside Giwa,” Dikko explained.
Dikko also referred to recent cases involving Egypt and Benin Republic, saying that the threat of a ban looms large. “FIFA recently slammed a two –year ban on Benin Republic from all competitions because some persons went to court and stopped the elections into the Executive Committee of its football federation.
“We have the case in Egypt where some persons went to court against elections that were conducted in 2012, and the court gave a ruling that the Minister of Sports should dissolve the Executive Committee. The Minister of Sports in Egypt has refused to do that because he knows the consequences.”
Article 68.2 of the FIFA Statutes states: “Recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations. Recourse to ordinary courts for all types of provisional measures is also prohibited.”
Articles 69.1 of the NFF Statutes states: “NFF, its Members, Players, Officials and match and player’s agents will not take any dispute to ordinary courts unless specifically provided for in these Statutes and FIFA regulations. Any disagreement shall be submitted to the jurisdiction of FIFA, CAF, WAFU or NFF.”
However, it is important to understand that this rule does not deny a party with a complaint from seeking justice before a judicial body. Instead of going to a regular court, the aggrieved party should take the dispute to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
The House Committee on Sports members were unanimous that since the matter has such distinct clarity, Mr. Giwa has no reason to be laying claim to the office of NFF President.
Vice chairman, Rt. Hon. Anayo Nebe, Hon. Ayodeji Joseph, Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye, Hon. Ayo Tajudeen, Hon. Nuhu Dambazzau, Hon. Mohammed Sheriff, Hon. Lazarus Ogbu, Hon. Samuel Ikon, Hon. Henry Ofongo and Hon. Prestige were among those who spoke at the session.