The saga continues
Football stakeholders in the country have expressed fears over a ban on Nigeria by world football governing body FIFA following the ongoing leadership tussle in the Nigeria Football Federation.
The country’s football witnessed a new twist after Chris Giwa resumed at the Glasshouse office of the NFF in Abuja fortnight ago as the president of the football body.
Crises in Nigeria football house continue when the Jos Court again postponed the judgment till September as the crises of four years continue.
After four years of temporary injunctions, appeals, a withdrawal, re-listing (re-filing), appeal and Supreme Court decision favoured Giwa.
Though, Amaju Pinnick’s lawyer Festus Kiyamo filed an appeal, which was slated for July 10th, however, the Jos Court again postponed the judgment.
NFF President Amaju Pinnick has seen his tenure clouded by the dark shadow of Christopher Giwa, whose legal challenge has followed his administration like a bad smell even though it began before the current federation chief and his board members were elected.
Giwa contends that he is the rightfully elected president of the NFF following an election on August 26, 2014.
However, FIFA refused to recognise his election, pointing to third-party interference which occurred when the then NFF president Aminu Maigari, his General Secretary Musa Amadu and executive committee member Christopher Green were detained by Nigeria’s State Security Service on the day of the election, compelling almost two thirds of delegates to stage a walk out.
The question of which of the two elections is valid is the issue at the crux of Tuesday’s court sessions.
This will be the first time since the beginning of the crisis that the substantive case will come up for litigation, and it will be mostly decided via FIFA Statutes.
In Giwa’s case, the issue will be whether or not his election meets FIFA’s standards for recognition. The Court of Arbitration for Sport has already ruled that it did not, as the SSS arrest of Maigari and two others constituted third-party interference.
In addition, the CAS ruling pointed out that the Congress did not form a quorum, as only 12 out of 44 accredited delegates were present for the voting. The case gets a little more complicated in Pinnick’s case.
While his election met the FIFA guidelines, it was held despite an order of court restraining the NFF from holding a Congress or elections.
The NFF had previously argued under the judge that the Congress and elections were held because they were not served the order.
Although the judge upheld the argument – and did not charge them with contempt – he went ahead to set aside both the Congress and the elections pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Nigerian football has an embarrassing history of crisis during leadership changes, and no NFF president, or NFA chairman (when the body was still called the Nigeria Football Association) has managed to serve more than one term.
Nigerian Sports Ministers have routinely found ways to do away with NFA (as the body was known at the time) chairmen who grew too big for their boots.
Emeka Omeruah, Abdulmumini Aminu, Kojo Williams and Dominic Oneya have all been previous victims. Williams barely lasted three months.
The current format of accusing reigning football bosses of corruption, having them arrested and then removed, began in 2006 with Ibrahim Galadima.
Despite securing re-election, Galadima was hounded out of office with unproven accusations and allegations of corruption, following a battle that dragged for months.
After a series of back and forths with FIFA, the standoff resulted in a fresh election where Sani Lulu was elected NFF president.
Lulu himself suffered the same fate four years after, when he was also accused of corruption and kicked out. Aminu Maigari was elected in his place.
It took nearly eight years before Lulu, who consistently protested his innocence, was cleared of all charges.
In 2014, it was Maigari’s turn to face the same accusations of corruption, allegations that he and his board vehemently denied.
It mattered little. Maigari was impeached, and subsequently forced to resign, which led to the current crisis.