The leadership tussle between Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giwa has taken a new turn following a new approach by Pinnick’s lawyer.
Festus Keyamo (SAN), counsel to the Amaju Pinnick-led board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Tuesday in Abuja said that the order of court recognising election of Chris Giwa as NFF President was not binding on FIFA.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, had on Monday directed the NFF to comply with the judgement of the Supreme Court delivered on April 27, 2018.
The judgement he noted restored the orders of the Federal High Court, setting aside the purported election into the Executive Committee of the NFF held on Sept. 30, 2014 which produced Amaju Pinnick.
Dalung said in a statement that the directive was being followed by a written notification signed for the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, requesting the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to ensure compliance.
However, Keyamo, who spoke to NAN in an interview, said Pinnick had never been a party to any case in court, adding that the order of the court was not binding on FIFA, of which the NFF is an affiliate of.
“As I speak with you, Chris Giwa and Amaju Pinnick are not party to any case in any court, whether from the Federal High Court or the Supreme Court.
“So, what happened was that when the Attorney General looked at the judgement of the Supreme Court in April, he gave an opinion that there was nothing to enforce and advised both parties to go back the the high court to determine the case on the merit.
“It was after this directive by the Attorney General of the Federation that Giwa went back to the lower court and in an exparte motion…I want everyone to take note of this.
“There was no contest; there was no service of paper for Pinnick or any of his lawyers.
“It was an exparte motion (one sided), only Giwa was heard and the court ordered that Giwa, who is not a party to the case, should go back and that the congress that produced him be recognised, while the congress that produced Pinnick be derecognised.
“Meanwhile, both parties were not parties to the case,” he said.
Keyamo, however, stressed that it was not an opportunity to argue his case, adding that he did not intend to inform the integrity of the court as he was only saying things the way they were.
“Having said all of these, in our statement we made it clear that in as much as we respect the sanctity of the court, no matter the misgivings we have about the order, unfortunately, and I repeat unfortunately, in this situation, the order of the court is not binding on FIFA.
“FIFA is the world football governing body and the NFF is an affiliate of FIFA. Just two or three weeks ago, FIFA actually wrote back to Giwa’s lawyers warning and stressing, for the umpteenth time, that FIFA will not abide by any decision by the local court,” he said.
The NFF counsel also noted that Giwa had previously gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) and lost, adding that having lost, he ran back to the Nigerian court.
“So in the eyes of FIFA, Giwa cannot, is not and can never be the President of NFF.
“As a consequence of what he had done by dragging everybody to the local court, FIFA had imposed a worldwide ban on him and his so-called board, adding that they cannot take part in any football activity anywhere on planet earth for the next five years.
“So, I want to ask you, and I want to ask Nigerians, how can such a person in his dreams say he wants to be President of NFF when he is under a worldwide ban, how?
“Is the ambition of one person suppose to bring down the entire football house on us?
“Let me tell me you this clearly and all Nigerians that Giwa is on a journey to nowhere and it will end the way it has started,” he said.
On Dalung’s directive, Keyamo said it was unfortunate that the sports minister had not played a very good role in the matter.
“He had a duty to advise government that there is a judgement already by the CAS which the government is bound to comply with as a responsible nation in the community of nations.
“So, the Sports minister has not played a very statutory role on this matter at all and all those statements he is bringing out about compliance or non-compliance is just a smoke-screen,” he said.
Reacting to Keyamo’s statement, Giwa told NAN that he was surprised at what the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) was saying, adding that it showed that he was not well informed about what the matter was really all about.
“He alleged that we went to CAS and we lost, but that is not true. The matter that took us to CAS had nothing to do with the football house election dispute in Nigeria.
“We went to CAS to challenge the FIFA letter that came to Nigeria congratulating Pinnick as the president of NFF and FIFA explained before CAS that the letter was a personal letter from Sepp Blatter and not from FIFA.
“So, that was what took us to CAS and not the election matter,” he said.
On the issue of the order of the court not binding on FIFA/NFF, Giwa argued that the status of the NFF made it very clear in Article 1.1 that the NFF was a registered entity under the Nigerian law and it must abide by Nigerian law.
“So, when CAS ruled that it was only the Nigerian law that could decide who the president of the NFF is, that was when we went back to the Federal High Court and to God be all the glory, the matter went up to the Supreme Court.
“On April 27, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled and if he (Keyamo) is not aware, let me make it clear to him.
“The Supreme Court restored the orders of the Federal High Court, setting aside the purported election into the Executive Committee of the NFF held on Sept. 30, 2014 which produced Pinnick.
“So if the Supreme Court, which is the highest judicial body in the land, says that the order should be restored, then what are we talking about.
“I want us to tell Nigerians the truth and not be personal about this matter. It is not all about Giwa or Pinnick, it is about the reality on ground,” he said.
NAN also reports that Giwa have since assumed duties at the NFF headquarters in Abuja.