The Solicitor to the Nigeria Football Federation, Festus Keyamo (SAN), has declared that Nigeria risks FIFA ban should his clients be sacked from office.
Keyamo spoke in response to a statement by the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, directing his client, Amaju Pinnick, and members of the NFF Board under him to vacate office.
He said the directive that Ambassador Chris Giwa and his board members should take office does not have any locus standi.
Dalung had in a statement on Monday said the NFF should respect the order of the Supreme Court.
He said this was based on the position of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
But Keyamo said in response to the development: “The attention of our clients have been drawn to a statement purportedly issued at the behest of the Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung directing the NFF to comply with certain court orders effecting a change of leadership in the NFF.
“Our clients wish to alert the general public and the authorities in Nigeria that the so-called directive by the Minister of Sports is null, void and of no effect for the following reasons.
“Whilst our clients respect the sanctity of court orders, unfortunately the said court orders are not binding on FIFA, the World Football Governing Body. The NFF is an affiliate of FIFA. It should be noted that FIFA has consistently maintained that this same matter has been taken to the highest Court of Sports Arbitration in Switzerland by these same individuals and they have lost. FIFA is only bound by the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sports AND DOES NOT ENTERTAIN OR TOLERATE decisions by local courts in footballing nations worldwide. Hence, FIFA has since upheld the decision of the Court of Arbitration on this matter and recognized the NFF Board led by Amaju Pinnick. Nigeria has a duty to comply with that decision. In addition, for the indiscretion of those individuals like Chris Giwa to approach the local courts, FIFA has since imposed a worldwide ban on them from all footballing activities.
“The end result is that Chris Giwa and his so-called Board members do not have any locus standi with regards to footballing matters and the Federal Government CANNOT have any dealing with them on any footballing matter. The obvious implication of all these is that if any attempt is made to recognize Chris Giwa and derecognize Amaju Pinnick and his Board, FIFA WILL DEFINITELY IMPOSE A LENGTHY BAN ON NIGERIA from all football competitions locally and internationally and that will spell doom for Nigerian Football.
“The immediate casualties of this ban would be (a) The Falconets who have qualified and are scheduled to participate in the Under-20 Female World Cup in July, 2018 (b) The final phases of the AFCON Qualifiers for the Super Eagles scheduled for August/September, 2018 (c) The Super Falcons defending their title in December in Ghana (d) No Nigerian Club side would be allowed to participate in the Continental Championships and (e) the future of all Nigerian players based in Nigeria would be in jeopardy as no Nigerian player would be allowed to be sold or transferred to any club anywhere in the world.”
Keyamo also claimed his clients have taken steps to vacate the orders given by the Federal High Court in Jos, saying the said orders were given ex-parte (one-sided), as no other person was served with court processes. It should also be noted that the orders were given against Amaju Pinnick and his Board members (who are not parties to the case and were never served) and in favour of Chris Giwa (who is also not a party to the case). Besides, these orders are to last for only fourteen (14) days as provided by the Rules of Court. Our clients state these facts as they are in order to inform the public of the nature of the orders given without meaning to denigrate the authority of the court.
“The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, a few weeks ago, having studied the Supreme Court judgment has already advised (by a letter dated 13th June, 2018) that the matter is subjudice, and that Government cannot intervene at this point. He advised all parties to await the FINAL DETERMINATION of the case. However, in a desperate attempt to assume office at all cost, Chris Giwa sneaked back to court to obtain these ex-parte (one-sided) orders prompting the office of the Attorney-General to issue yet another advice again dated June 26, 2018, advising compliance to the court order.”
Keyamo also urged restraint and caution because the substantive matter is pending in court and has not been fully determined.
He said: “Our clients have also taken steps to set aside these orders. Therefore, it is important that the Government awaits the full and final determination of the entire matter. It may be the contention of Chris Giwa and his so-called Board that the Rule of Law must be obeyed which means an immediate enforcement of the one-sided (ex-parte) orders. However, Nigeria is also bound to abide, recognize and enforce the decisions of the Courts of Arbitration for Sports which have since dismissed the case of Chris Giwa and his so-called Board, and affirmed Amaju Pinnick and his Board as the authentic leadership of the NFF.
“Our clients are therefore VERY SHOCKED that despite these glaring questions marks, the Minister of Sports refused to advise Government correctly as to the position of FIFA on this matter and the existence of an Award against Chris Giwa and his so-called Board by the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
“The Press Release by the Minister of Sports would definitely cripple football in Nigeria and make Nigeria a pariah State regarding football. Our clients do not, by this letter, want to give credence or promote so many insinuations, peddled about, as motivating the actions of the Minister of Sports. Our clients only urge the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently reverse the position of the Minister of Sports and save Nigerian Football from collapse.”