By Patrick Omorodion
Disengaged Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles, Sylvanus Okpala OON, has taken his dispute with the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS based in Lausanne, Switzerland to seek redress and possible reinstatement or compensation with Aminu Maigari, president and Musa Amadu, secretary general joined in suit.
Sources close to the NFF told Vanguard Sports that the ex international filed his case with CAS in February and the body has written to inform the NFF which seems ready to defend itself with the appointment of two legal counsels to defend it.
In acknowledging NFF’s letter dated March 11, 2014, Legal Counsel to the CAS, Mr. Brent J. Nowicki wrote that “I note that (sic) the Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF’s) appointment of Mr. A.U. Mustapha and Mr. Okey Sylvanus Obi as its legal representatives in this matter.”
The body of Arbitration, the source said, however, requested the NFF to clarify within three days of the receipt of its (CAS) letter by email whether the lawyers it appointed “will also represent the individually named Mr. Alhaji (sic) Aminu Maigari and Barrister Musa Amadu, as well as the Nigeria Football Association.”
CAS, it was gathered, is seeking an out of court settlement of the dispute, an action Okpala’s camp, through his lawyers have accented to provided the NFF accepts it too, failure of which CAS will begin proceedings under the Ordinary Arbitration rules to resolve the dispute.
Towards this end, CAS informed the NFF that Okpala was open to resolving the dispute through “mediation procedure” and therefore requested both sides to advise the CAS Court office on or before March 15, 2014 “whether they jointly consent to the submission of the present dispute to CAS mediation.”
It however, added that “the parties are reminded that if they do not JOINTLY (with emphasis) agree within the time limit to submit the present dispute to mediation, the proceedings will continue under the Ordinary Arbitration rules.”
Efforts to reach top officials of the NFF, Alhaji Maigari, the NFF president who along the federation’s Secretary General, Barrister Musa Amadu who Okpala dragged to CAS, Chief Mike Umeh, First Vice President of the NFF, Barrister Chris Green, Chairman of the Technical Committee and Ademola Olajire, Assistant Director, Media to speak on the development were futile as their telephone lines were switched off.
It was not clear as at press time yesterday whether the NFF met with the three days deadline of receipt of CAS letter to clarify the positions of its two lawyers with regards to Maigari and Amadu and the March 15, 2014 deadline given it to consent whether it agrees on mediation by CAS of the dispute with Okpala.
A source close to the ex international disclosed that Okpala decided to take the matter to CAS after the NFF failed to reply to letters from his lawyer that he (Okpala) be reinstated or be paid off.
It would be recalled that Okpala was disengaged from the Eagles technical crew in April last year by the NFF which cited poor financial standing which has made it difficult for the federation to maintain a 17-man backroom staff.
Ironically, only Okpala was disengaged among the coaching crew while the NFF went ahead to appoint more officials as technical directors a few weeks after, a situation that made him (Okpala), according to a source close to him, to exploit a section of his contract with the NFF which authorises an aggrieved party to go to CAS to seek redress.