The federal government Monday sacked Amaju Pinnick as the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) after it directed the executive committee headed by him to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court of April 27, 2018, which restored the orders of the Federal High Court, that set aside the September 30, 2014, election into the Executive Committee of the football.
A statement by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, said the directive followed a written notification signed by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) requesting the sports ministry to ensure compliance.
It is believed that the sack of the board headed by Pinnick was a fallout of Nigeria’s dismal outing at the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Russia, where the Super Eagles failed to advance to the Round of 16.
The Supreme Court order as interpreted by Malami, ordered Dalung to reinstate Ambassador Chris Giwa, who purportedly won the parallel election held on August 26, 2014.
International football body, FIFA has refused to recognise Giwa as the elected president and may now sanction Nigeria, leading to a ban from all international football competition as the federal government action is deemed as interference.
A statement signed Monday by Nneka Ikem Anibeze, the Special Assistant to Dalung, said the directive to remove Pinnick was sequel to the relief granted by Justice M. H. Kurya of the Federal High Court Jos on July 5, 2018 in the suit between Yahaya Adama Vs Alhaji Aminu Maigari that Giwa be given recognition pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice asking that ban of the individuals elected into the board on August 26, 2014, from football activities of the NFF should be declared unconstitutional, null and void.
“It is trite law that court orders are sacrosanct and any acts of disobedience to it constitutes threat to the rule of law. Consequent upon the above, you are hereby advised to comply with the orders of court made therein which for now, is the valid and binding order of court, in the absence of any other subsisting order or judgment to the contrary,” Dalung said.
The minister consequently directed the parties involved to comply with the court order, saying: “This is a court order and not from Dalung. I will not want to go to Kuje prison because of disobedience of court orders. Therefore, I hereby comply with the court orders of June 5th, 2018, while Mr. Amaju Pinnick and others are also directed to comply with same.”
With the momentum now in his favour, after failed attempt to have the September 30, 2014 election overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sports ( CAS) Giwa, barnstormed the NFF “Glasshouse” with his board members under heavy police protection Friday afternoon before paying a visit to Dalung later in the day.
The Supreme Court order compels Dalung, the defendants, their servants, agents and privies howsoever, the Inspector General of Police (IG) and all law enforcement agencies to forthwith enforce the orders made by the court on September 19, 2014 and October 23, 2014 and give recognition to the General Assembly meeting and election of the NFF held on August 26, 2014 Giwa’s pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Meanwhile, in a speed of lightning, the counsel to the embattled Pinnick, Festus Keyamo, in a statement to reflect his official position on government directive, berated Dalung and advised the public to disregard his latest directive as illegal and of no effect.
Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said: “The attention of our clients have been drawn to a statement purportedly issued at the behest of Dalung directing the NFF to comply with certain court orders effecting a change of leadership in the NFF.
“Our clients wish to alert the 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. While 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 recognised the NFF board led by Pinnick. Nigeria has a duty to comply with that decision. In addition, for the indiscretion of those individuals like Giwa to approach the local courts, FIFA has since imposed a worldwide ban on them from all footballing activities.
The end result is that 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.”