By Mark Baber
April 11 – With Nigeria having been eliminated from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, the factional struggle for control of the Nigerian Football Federation has returned with a vengeance as, on Friday, Chris Giwa’s group returned to court, winning a ruling which effectively makes Giwa head of the federation and overthrows the Amaju Pinnick-led board.
In the Federal High Court in Jos, Justice Musa Haruna Kurya agreed to relist the suit brought by Yahaya Adama and Senator Obinna Ogba and also sustained all the previous orders of the court, including those made by Justice Ambrose Allagoa which nullified the Warri General Assembly and the subsequent Elective congress that elected Amaju Pinnick and his faction to power.
The court action challenging the legitimacy of Pinnick’s controversial election had been put on hold after repeated warnings of government interference from former FIFA General-Secretary Jerome Valcke, and who firmly backed the Pinnick faction, threatening to ban Nigeria from international football if its courts exercised jurisdiction over the matter.
NFF legal counsel, Barrister Damon Dashe said: “We shall consult with our clients but certainly we shall go to the Court of Appeal as we are not satisfied with the decisions of the court in this matter.”
Claims by NFF spokesperson Ademola Olajire that the NFF had “swiftly moved to file an appeal, a motion to vacate the order and a motion for a stay-of-execution against the judgement of the Jos High Court, which on Friday decided to re-list a case brought by Ambassador Chris Giwa” were described as “lies and propaganda” by former First Vice Chairman of the NFF, Chief Victor Rumson Baribote.
According to the Pinnick release, “in re-listing the case for hearing on 30th May this year, the court shockingly also restored the order that the election and Congress of 30th September 2014 be nullified.
“However, since an appeal, a motion to vacate the order and a stay-of-execution has been filed, on the same day as the judgement, the status quo remains.”
NFF 1st Vice President Seyi Akinwunmi said on Friday: “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.”
Whilst many Nigerians weren’t panicking – but rather celebrating – at the Pinnick group’s demise, the Giwa group lost no time in organising an emergency NFF meeting in Abuja on Saturday at which “the board of the Nigeria Football Federation” announced the appointment of new management staff, acting chairmen of committees and secretaries as well as the dissolution of all standing committees appointed by the former board led by Pinnick Amaju. The new Board also decided to put all contract staff, apart from Director of Marketing, Idris Adama, on one-month compulsory leave with effect from today (Monday April 11).
With Nigerian media already describing Chris Giwa as the NFF President, the Glass House is reportedly being guarded by police to “prevent any breaches of the peace” and it remains to be seen if Pinnick has enough sway in Zurich to drag FIFA back into the fray again.
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