The Supreme Court has yesterday set aside the 2016 judgment of the Appeal Court on the leadership crisis rocking the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).
The apex court, in a unanimous ruling delivered by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, sent the case back to the Federal High Court in Jos, Plateau State, where it was commenced in September 2014, and ordered the said court to give it an accelerated hearing.
The Court of Appeal in Jos, had held that the case could no longer be relisted before the Federal High Court having been earlier withdrawn by the appellants. But the apex court upheld the appellants’ contention that they could have the case re-listed before the Federal High Court after their settlement talks broke down.
While Giwa asked the Supreme Court to evoke its powers under Section 22 of the Constitution to hear the suit on its merit as a court of first instance, the Supreme Court held that the plea did not meet with the conditions required for the apex court to evoke its powers, but ordered that the case be re-listed at the high court to hear it expeditiously.
A five-man panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, held that the conditions that could warrant hearing such case which ought to be heard by the Federal High Court had not been met.
The appellants, Yahaya Adama and Obinna Ogba, who had claimed that they and others were the authentic NFF executive committee members said to have been elected on August 26, 2014.
Chris Giwa and his board had dragged the FIFA-recognised Amaju Pinnick-led board to the Supreme Court, to set aside the verdict of the Appeal Court which set aside the ruling of a Federal High Court in Jos that ordered the continuation of the case.
Giwa and his board had claimed in the originating suit that the mandate given to them by the congress of the NFF in August 2013 was sacrosanct.
They also insisted that the election in Warri that brought in the Pinnick group was held in defiance of a High Court order.
Reacting to the judgment of the Supreme Court, The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) assured that there was no reason to get worried about a Supreme Court decision on the 2014 elections into its Executive Committee.
The football body, on its twitter handle some moments after the court’s ruling, said the Supreme Court in Abuja did not nullify Amaju Pinnick’s election as NFF President.
It said its reaction followed news to the contrary ongoing on social media. Giwa took the matter to the apex court, after losing out at the Appeal Court and at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
NFF’s counsel, Festus Keyamo, was quoted in the tweet as saying: “Nobody should cause unnecessary panic in Nigeria’s football. That’s my case.
“Supreme Court did not nullify Amaju’s election. The Supreme Court did not remove Amaju from office.
“The Court only referred the case back to the Federal High Court to be tried properly, to know which of the elections held in 2014 was right.
“Amaju was not a party to the case at the Supreme Court. So, the court could not have removed a party from office without joining the party and hearing from the party.’’
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