By ONOCHIE ANIBEZE
The Vice President, Board of Appeal Committee of Confederation of African Football, CAF, Amanze Uchegbulam knows one way the Nigeria Football Federation can end the problem litigation in ordinary law courts poses to Nigerian football. “Ban those who resort to ordinary courts for disputes in our football and others will learn from it.”
Uchegbulam, a one time Vice Chairman of Nigeria Football Association, was reacting to Friday’s ruling of a court in Jos recognising Chris Giwa as the President of NFF following a 2014 election that was thrown out by world football governing body, Fifa.
Then sports minister Sammy Danagogo had initiated Annual General Meeting of the NFF and called for election which was boycotted by majority of the Congress members. Members had deserted the hall of the congress to pay solidarity visit to their then President Aminu Maigari who was being detained at a police station. It was all about the ploy to install a new President. Election was said to have been held but the Congress went on to orgainise a proper election in Warri where Amaju Pinnick emerged as President. Fifa duly recognised the election. Chris Giwa went to court but withdrew the case when fifa threatened to ban Nigeria. He took the case to Fifa and Court of Arbitration for Sports, CAS and lost. But on Friday he went to court again, re-listed the case and Justice Musa Haruna Kurya granted his prayers to recognise his election.
Fifa yesterday warned Nigeria of the consequences of such interference and maintained that resorting to ordinary law courts was against their statutes. Before NFF received Fifa’s letter Amanze Uchegbulam had said the following: “NFF must learn to apply the rules. They must apply the sanctions when somebody flouts the rules of the game. Anybody who takes football matter to ordinary law courts should be banned. Ray Nnaji went to court and we banned him when we were in NFF. It was not about Ray or those in the Executive Committee of NFF. It was about football and its rules. In the case of Chris Giwa who had done this before he should be expelled from football. NFF has the powers to do so. If they don’t take the appropriate steps people will continue to do this. The last time, (Issa) Hayatou (CAF President) was saying that they were tired of Nigeria. NFF must stop this nonsense by banning those who break the rules.”
Kojo Williams who was once chairman of Nigeria Football Association was on the same page: “They should ban him for about eight years. He will then have nothing to do with his club. And if he does anything with his club while serving the ban, the club will also be banned. That’s the way to bring sanity to our football. We know that the minister is behind this but they will not succeed.”
Richard Nwabufo Obienu was another Vice Chairman of Nigeria Football Association. He added his contribution: “I wonder why Chris Giwa wants to set our football 20 years back. His election was a sham. The former ministers who tried this all failed. These people will fail too. I think that they must begin to apply the sanctions and ban such people.”
In Fifa’s letter yesterday it reminded the NFF that article 68 of the FIFA Statutes states that “recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations. “Furthermore, it is the duty of each member association to ensure that these provisions are implemented by its members and possibly take sanctions against those who fail to respect these obligations.”
It is was on this basis that Uchegbulam, Kojo Willaims and Obienu have called for sanctions against Giwa.