Another legal spanner was yesterday thrown into football administration in the country as an Abuja High Court ordered both the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF and its affiliate, the Nigeria Premier League, NPL to close shop and stop doing football business forthwith.
In a ruling which lasted about three hours yesterday, the court, presided over by Justice Donatus Okorowo, declared the Statutes of the world football governing, FIFA which both bodies operate with, illegal and cannot have the force of law within the entity Nigeria.
In a swift reaction however, the NFF in a statement by its acting Secretary General, Barrister Musa Amadu said it has not received a copy of the judgment but learnt of it through a chat with its lawyer.
According to the NFF statement, it will continue with the running of football in the country until it gets a copy of the judgment, stressing that it has 90 days to appeal the judgment which it said was merely talking about incorporation of the football house.
“We have not seen a copy of the judgment apart from the chat we had with our lawyer. He (the Judge)said something about the NFF and NPL not being properly incorporated or registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, but the lawyer himself was yet to get a copy of the judgment. However, the learned Judge did not make any consequential order thereto,” the statement read.
“By the time we get a copy of the judgment on Monday, we will be able to react fully. As for now, the business of running Nigeria football is unaffected, as we have 90 days to appeal any judgment, during which the status quo, legally, remains”,Barrister Amadu added.
Justice Okorowo had however ordered counsel to Dr Sam Sam Jaja who sued the NFF and the NPL, Phil Oguchukwu, to file contempt proceeding should the occupants of both the NFF and NFL continue to do business after the ruling.
The High Court judgment was based on the case brought before it two years ago by Dr Jaja who was the former President of the Nigeria Referees Association, NRA, challenging his disqualification from the Nigeria Premier League election which was later won by Davidson Owumi, who was also toppled by Victor Baribote, the current NPL Chairman by another court.
The High Court judge who granted all the 10 reliefs sought by Dr Jaja said the NFF was not known to Nigerian laws, noting that the only legal instrument by which football is administered in the country remains the Nigeria Football Association Act CAP 2004 as amended.
Jaja, among other prayers, had in the case filed in march 2010 asked the court to declare his disqualification null and void and that the FIFA, NFF and NFL statutes on which football is administered in the country are illegal.
Justice Okorowo ruled that until the FIFA Statutes which the Nigeria football authorities hold sacrosanct has been domesticated in the nation’s legal statutes, it cannot have force in Nigeria.
On the Nigeria Football League Limited, the name under which the Nigeria Premier League was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, Justice Okorowo declared that the NFL was not a legal person at the time it joined the NFA as one of the registered trustees of the company (NFL Limited). Consequently he directed that the company (NFL) should wind down since it failed to meet relevant provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).