NPFL: Appeal Court Takes over Giwa Reinstatement Case

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The legal battle seeking to compel the League Management Company (LMC) to reinstate Giwa FC into the 2015/16 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) has shifted to the Court of Appeal, Jos Division which two days ago enrolled the suit.

LMC’s appeal is against the interim order granted by Justice I.I. Kunda of the Plateau State High Court, Bukuru on August 12, in a case filed by Mustapha Abubakar seeking to reinstate Giwa FC into the NPFL and also reschedule all the games the club was excluded from playing following its expulsion in May. Abubakar claims to be the Chairman of Giwa FC Supporters Club and that his fundamental human rights has been violated.

Giwa FC was expelled by the LMC from the NPLF in May for failure to honour and play three matches cumulatively contrary to the provisions of the NPFL 2015/16 Framework and Rules and punishable by expulsion from the League. LMC had reached the decision after a protracted process of appeals and hearings as provided for by the rules of the football governing authorities

The LMC through its lawyer, Olumide Olujinmi is asking the Court of Appeal to grant a stay of execution of the lower court’s order and an application for departure from the rules of court to allow for the appeal to be heard as a matter of urgency.

In one of its grounds of appeal, the LMC argued that Abubakar has not been shown to have any connection or relationship whatsoever with the LMC or the NPFL and that there was no urgency as required by law for the judge to make the interim order which is nearly three months after the expulsion of Giwa FC from the NPFL on May 22. At the resumed hearing last Thursday, Justice Kunda had sought to know if the LMC had complied with the interim order of August 12 and Olujimi in response referred to an affidavit of compliance filed by the LMC as proof of compliance. Olujimi also told the court that he has filed for a stay of proceedings at the Appeals Court.

However, Barrister H.S Ardzard, the Counsel for Abubakar disagreed, claiming that there has not been full compliance since according to him, the LMC was yet to reschedule the matches involving Giwa FC. He then pleaded with the judge to give an order stopping the league until there is full compliance.

The LMC however said there was no basis for stopping the league which is an industry representing the multifarious interests of 19 other clubs from states all over Nigeria with players on contract as employees, officials and other employees of the clubs, broadcast right holders, corporate sponsors and the public interest and national and international image of Nigeria.

The LMC continued that rescheduling of matches cannot be done at a whim and explained that it involves several considerations and processes that will take some time.

It was also the submission of the LMC that Giwa FC’s interest cannot supersede other interests and urged the plaintiff’s Counsel to seek other judicial remedies to enforce compliance with the court order if he was sure there had been none.

The LMC contends that the suit before the Plateau State High Court is defective since as a fundamental human right case, Giwa FC or its owner Giwa FC Ltd is a company which cannot have fundamental human rights.

The League body had also challenged the jurisdiction of the Jos High Court to grant the interim order, contending that Abubakar lacked the locus standi to file the suit on behalf of Giwa FC Ltd, since the only person that can complain about any wrong done to a company is the company itself.