By Onochie Anibeze
rticle 64 Subsec tion 2 of FIFA STATUTES stipulate that “recourse to Ordinary Courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations.”

Subsection 3 states that the member Associations shall insert a clause in their Statutes or Regulations stipulating that it is prohibited to take disputes in the Association or disputes affecting Leagues, members of Leagues, Clubs, members of clubs, Players, Officials and other Association Officials to Ordinary Courts of law.

Against this background, what happened on Tuesday in Abuja where the sports ministry and Nigeria Football Federation officials reached an agreement to compensate those who took football matters to Ordinary Courts is a BAD PRECEDENT which some technocrats say will create more problems for Nigerian football.

It simply means that Nigeria has flouted fifa and Caf statutes.

Sani Ahmed Toro, a former Secretary-General of Nigeria Football Association and one time member of the House of Representatives reacted this way to the signed agreement:

“I welcome the peace that they have made but I don’t agree with the way they went about it. It is a dangerous precedent. We may have many people now going to ordinary law courts instead of Courts of Arbitration. This is not good for our football.”

Sports minister, Bolaji Abdullahi led the sports ministry in compelling the Nigeria Football Federation to sign agreement to compensate Sam Sam Jaja who got a judgment ruling that NFF was illegal as the Nigerian Constitution only recognized Nigeria Football Association, NFA.

Ray Nnaji, a former NPL board member had also gone to court and his matter was pending as at the time a truce was brokered Tuesday. Nnaji was asked to withdraw the case and Jaja agreed not to enforce the judgment for which NFF had appealed. They will also withdraw their appeal but will make Jaja Honourary Member of the NFF and also withdraw his disqualification. NFF will also withdraw the suspension of Ray Nnaji and pay him reasonable compensation.

“I sympathise with the NFF on the grounds that they were under pressure and agreed to what translates to violation of Caf, Fifa and their own statutes,” Amanze Uchegbulam, former Vice President of NFF said. Uchegbulam is also the Vice Chairman of Appeal Committee in Caf and is well respected for the cases he has handled.

He said further: “Statutes are sacrosanct and in as much as I welcome the peace achieved there should have been a way out other than violating the statutes. Football people went to ordinary courts rather than Court of Arbitration and NFF has been forced to accept it.

Sam Sam Jaja was disqualified from contesting election into the Nigerian League Board and not NFF. So why make him Honourary Member of NFF? It should be NPL and not NFF. Again, the Executive Board does not have the power to make any person Honourary Member.

It is the Congress. So, I hope that they will table that for approval in the next General Assembly of the Federation. In all this, I see that the hand of the monkey inside the soup is from the National Sports Commission, so I understand the pressure they have gone through before agreeing to violate their own statutes. It’s a pity but I welcome the peace.”

Nwabufo Obienu, another former Vice Chairman of NFA frowned at the federation members, saying that they lacked the guts to defend football statutes.

“What happened was ridiculous especially when they had a good case. How can you appeal and not put up presence? So if you go to court over football matter you get compensated? I really find it ridiculous because more cases will now go to law court.”


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