By Emmanuel Afonne
Chris Giwa, factional President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has faulted a statement credited to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Festus Keyamo, on the leadership crisis rocking the country’s football.
Mr Habilla Ardzard, Giwa’s lawyer in a statement issued on Tuesday, said that Keyamo misinformed Nigerians on the NFF leadership tussle.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), recalls that Keyamo, lead counsel to Amaju Pinnick, in a statement on Aug. 26, alleged that there was no court order preventing his client from acting as NFF President.
He also said that there was no court order to install Chris Giwa as President of NFF.
According to Keyamo, “There is no Supreme Court order or any other subsisting order restraining Amaju Pinnick from acting as President of the NFF or installing Chris Giwa as president of the NFF.
“We hereby challenge anybody who disputes this to publish the Supreme Court judgment or order where the names of Amaju Pinnick or Chris Giwa were ever mentioned in any portion of the judgment or as even parties to the case.
“The fact is that the court processes filed in the Supreme Court matter do not bear their names as parties to the suit whatsoever,” he added.
Ardzard, however, dismissed Keyamo’s position and clarified that the order was not contingent on any futuristic occurrence and as such, was final.
“The attention of the NFF Executive Committee elected on Aug. 26, 2014 has been drawn to a press statement issued on Aug. 26, 2018, by the office of Festus Keyamo, SAN counsel to the Amaju Pinnick-led purported board on the current situation of Nigeria football.
“Ordinarily, we could have ignored the press statement, but for the misinformation contained therein and its design to mislead and hoodwink unsuspecting Nigerians into according unmerited credibility to the Amaju Pinnick-led illegal board of the NFF.
“In the press statement, Festus Keyamo, SAN sought to mislead Nigerians by alleging that there was no court order preventing Amaju Pinnick from acting as NFF President and installing Chris Giwa in office.
“We wish to clarify that by the order of the Federal High Court made on Oct. 23 2014, the election of Sept. 30, 2014, which purportedly brought Amaju Pinnick to office was nullified. This order was not contingent on any futuristic occurrence and was thus final.
“The application upon which the order was made was not ex-parte, but was on notice and in its judgment delivered on April 27, 2018, the Supreme Court gave recognition to this order.
“If the purported election which produced Amaju Pinnick and his group was nullified, can they and their purported board be said to have a legally recognised mandate?
“The Supreme Court had at various times clarified that if something is said to be a nullity, such a thing does not have existence. The foregoing position is anchored on an elementary principle of law that you cannot put something on nothing, and expect it to stand,” Ardzard said
He pointed out that the order of the Federal High Court made on June 5, 2018 in clear terms, restrained Amaju Pinnick and his team from parading themselves as the board of the NFF.
Ardzard also pointed out that the orders of the Federal High Court made on Sept. 19, 2014 and June 5, 2018, gave recognition to the Chris Giwa-led board of the NFF and compelled the government and relevant security agencies in the country to enforce same.
Giwa’s lawyer wondered why Keyamo should try to mislead Nigerians by saying that the names of Chris Giwa and Amaju Pinnick were not mentioned in any of the orders made by the court.
He explained that the suit at the Federal High Court was a representative action instituted on behalf of all members of the NFF board elected on Aug. 26, 2014, including Chris Giwa.
“Similarly, by laying claim to the presidency of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick was taking benefit from the illegal act of the former board of the NFF; this being so, he must also take the corresponding liability associated with the conduct of that same board.
“It is immoral to take benefit of the action of the former board of the NFF and duck the liability that comes with the same conduct.
“Moreover, the name of Amaju Pinnick clearly appears in the order of June 5, 2018 wherein he and his purported board were restrained from parading themselves as the legitimate board of the NFF,”Ardzard said
He urged Keyamo to explain to Nigerians why the Pinnick-led NFF board appealed against the order of the Federal High Court at the Court of Appeal.
“It would be recalled that the order made on April 8, 2016, inter alia relisted the suit, which was withdrawn and struck out on Oct. 30, 2014.
“It therefore defies logic and common sense that the order made to relist a case would be interpreted to mean it confirmed the striking out of the suit.
“The question whether or not the Supreme Court affirmed the restoration of the orders of the Federal High Court nullifying the election that produced Amaju Pinnick and his group and recognising the Chris Giwa-led board is not debatable.
“Both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court being appellate courts do not enforce orders as only the court of first instance can do so.
“Having gotten the orders made by the Federal High Court recognised by the Supreme Court, the Chris Giwa-led board must go back to the Federal High Court being the court of first instance to have those orders enforced.”
“This was why the Chris Giwa-led board approached the Federal High Court Jos for the enforcement of the orders of June 5, 2018,” Ardzard said.