News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Giwa insists Pinnick-led NFF board illegal

Amaju Pinnick (L) and Chris Giwa (R); the men in the middle of the NFF leadership tussle

By Emmanuel Afonne

Chris Giwa, the factional President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has insisted that the Amaju Pinnick-led board of the NFF is illegal in spite of its recognition by the Nigerian government.

A statement issued Monday night by Giwa’s lawyer Mr Habila Ardzard, recounted how the then leadership of the NFF flagrantly disobeyed court orders to elect Pinnick and his executive committee.

“It will be recalled that on Aug. 26, 2014, the board of the NFF led by Ambassador Chris Giwa was duly elected and by an order made on Sept. 19, 2014, in suit no. FHC/J/CS/77/2014, the Federal High Court sitting in Jos gave recognition to that board.

“Also recall that by an order made of Oct. 23, 2014, the Federal High Court sitting in Jos nullified the purported election of the Amaju Pinnick led board,” Ardzard said.

He frowned at situation where a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Vice President Laolu Akande, tweeted that the Federal Government had recognised the Pinnick-led NFF board as authentic, regardless of Court rulings.

According to Ardzard, the development appears to have set the Nigerian government against itself.

“The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in section 4, 5 and 6 recognises Government as consisting of three arms namely, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.

“The Judiciary having given recognition to the Ambassador Chris Giwa led board, it cannot be correct for the SSA to the Vice President to allude that the Nigerian Government has given recognition to the Amaju Pinnick-led purported board, as this would portray the government as being at war with itself.

“The judiciary having made a pronouncement on the state of Affairs, under the principles of separation of powers, only the judiciary can set aside its pronouncement.

“It is our firm belief that the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria believes in the rule of law which anchors our democracy,” he added.

Ardzard maintained that the Pinnick-led board does not exist, going by the pronouncement of the judiciary.

Recall that FIFA had threatened to ban Nigeria from participating in international football following leadership crisis between Giwa and Pinnick-led boards of the NFF which necessitated the intervention of the Judiciary.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino with Amaju Pinnick

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Giwa had dragged the Pinnick-led board to court over forceful takeover of the NFF secretariat following Pinnick’s emergence as president in an election conducted on Sept. 30, 2014.

The election prevented Giwa who emerged as NFF president at an earlier election on Aug. 26, 2014, from assuming office.

The matter eventually got to the Supreme Court which in April, set aside a 2016 judgment of the Appeal Court on the leadership tussle and sent the matter back to the Federal High Court sitting in Jos, Plateau State, which had earlier mandated Giwa to take over as president.

Following the FIFA threat, the Federal Government on Monday Aug. 20, recognised Pinnick and his men as the authentic leadership of the NFF, to avoid the country being expelled by the world football governing body.

FIFA in turn sent a correspondence confirming the receipt of a letter from the Federal Government as tweeted by Laolu Akande, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s SSA on Media and Publicity.

It is left to see how football stakeholders would resolve the lingering crisis, while FIFA and the Executive arm of Government back Pinnick, even as the ruling by the Judiciary had favoured the Giwa-led board.