By Fred Edoreh

Despite the prevailing circumstances in the Nigeria Football Federation, the Amaju Pinnick led board has assured that it is more concerned about the overall best interest of the nation and has asked true stakeholders in Nigerian football to be cautious in their utterances and actions while the issue is being resolved. 

This is coming on the backdrop of the recent attempt by the Chris Giwa group to take over the secretariat of the NFF allegedly based on an advice from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to the Minister of Sports  ostensibly following an Exparte Order secured by the Chris Giwa group at a Federal High Court on June 5.

The action of the Chris Giwa group followed after the office of the Attorney General had in an earlier response dated 13 June 2018, to Festus Keyamo Chambers, Solicitors to the Pinnick board, stated that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s remission of the matter for re-listing at the Federal High Court, the case is deemed to be pending and therefore sub judice, and after the Amaju led NFF board had duly challenged to set aside the said exparte order before the statutory 14 days, even though it was curiously not served the motion of the exparte application neither was it represented nor rserved with the order.

Before then, the Giwa group had on 2 May, ahead of the World Cup, written to FIFA praying for the recognition of the Giwa board and FIFA in its response on 5 June, categorically restated its recognition of the 30 September 2014 election and the Amaju led Executive Committee.

While reminding them that they had earlier enrolled the matter at the Court of Arbitration for Sports and lost in 2015, FIFA drew their attention, once again, to Articles 59 par 2 and 3 of the FIFA Statutes which prohibits recourse to regular courts in football matters, informing them also that the extended ban on Chris Giwa, Muazu Suleiman, Yahaya Adama, Sani Fema and Johnson Effiong for breaches of the NFF Statutes and FIFA Code of Ethics is still subsisting.

“It is unfortunate that, for selfish interest, they want to continue to cause confusion, to bring Nigeria to international disrepute and to erode the gains this regime has brought to bear on Nigerian football,” a top official of the board lamented.

“The administration of association football is governed by universal rules and there is no second guessing the fact that their action cuts against the grain of FIFA Statutes and the resolution of the Court of Arbitration for Sports. Even at that, it is also to be pointed out that in no way did the Supreme Court, in granting the re-listing of the matter, order the take over by the Giwa group. There perhaps want to blackmail the government and embarrass the nation with a FIFA ban under President Muhammadu Buhari. That is why the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick who is still on FIFA assignment in Russia has directed that our focus should be to ensure that there is no adverse penalty against our nation consequent upon this occurrence.

“As we speak, the chances of the National Women U20 team featuring in the France 2018 FIFA Women Championship and other junior teams in forthcoming international competitions could be in jeopardy but we ask Nigerians to be calm as we are engaging the world football body to assure them that the matter is being handled. It behoves all truly patriotic stakeholders in Nigerian football to be cautious in their utterances and actions as some people are visibly acting now like the woman in King Solomon’s court who wants the child killed and divided.”

In the past few years, the NFF had been burdened by the Giwa group litigations in regular courts but in the midst of the distractions, the Amaju board strove hard to focus on the reform of the administration and management of Nigerian football to provide the best conditions for the national teams, elicit the confidence and partnership of the corporate community while restrengthening the league and youth football development through various programmes and projects.

As many Nigerians have pleasantly observed, despite the early ouster of the Super Eagles from the World Cup, the NFF achieved a great packaging of the national team as a top brand as evident in the good management of the team and the global rush for the Super Eagles jerseys. It was hoped that the NFF will return from the World Cup to consolidate on these through other national teams and its marketing and development programmes.

“We will not relent on these fundamentals to which we have set our mind towards repositioning Nigerian football for better performance not only in international competitions but more so in the realisation of its potentials in youth engagement, provision of jobs, generation of sports related enterprise and attraction of domestic and foreign investments to contribute to the GDP, as well as sustaining the platform of football as a rallying point for national unity,” the board member assured.

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