Sports Minister Goofed on Giwa FC vs. LMC Matter

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By Fred Edoreh

The issues between Giwa FC and the League Management Company (LMC) over the expulsion of the Jos-based team from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) are currently pending before the Court of Appeal in the Plateau State capital. It is public knowledge that all parties and their counsels are before the court and have filed their respective papers before that honorable court.

The order of the Jos High Court of committal to prison of the Chairman of LMC, Shehu Dikko and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the league body, Abubakar Salihu, for failure to reinstate Giwa FC to the league, is one of the several orders being challenged by LMC before the Court of Appeal. LMC has also filed for a stay of execution, and setting aside, of this order.

Perhaps, I should help bring the minister up to speed that these are the facts of the matter as dutifully reported by the media since the middle of August, 2016 in case it has skipped his memory.

I need not be a lawyer like the minister to state that as a civilised community of men based on law, all parties and institutions are imposed upon to respect the integrity and jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal and, await the outcome of the court process set in motion in accordance with the laws of the land.

The Honourable Minister of Sports said in his television interview that he does not know the merits and demerits of this matter, because he has not been briefed. This is a fair enough position to maintain. In spite of his ignorance of these issues, the Minister of Sports goes on to say that the reason the police is looking for Shehu Dikko has nothing to do with his performance of his duties at LMC.

With all due respect to the minister, this is a wild, unfair, partial and dangerous categorical statement to make, given his earlier claim of ignorance of the merits or otherwise of the matter. This statement would appear to be designed to aid and justify those who have taken football matters to court but will not respect the same court and allow the case to be fought out in court till the end. Instead, we are assailed daily by the news of the desperate efforts of these individuals to thwart the process of law with all manner of false claims and underhand tactics. This is more so when the Nigeria Police Force, rightly under the law, has not declared Shehu Dikko and Salihu Abubakar wanted to the knowledge of all Nigerians.

This whole shameful episode would, therefore, appear to be calculated at preventing Dikko and Abubakar from exercising their rights to appeal against decisions of the Jos High Court that they feel is unjust and oppressive.

As a minister of the federal republic, he should not be seen granting interviews or making categorical comments about matters outside his knowledge. His position is too weighty to allow him make flippant comments, particularly about the safety and liberty of other Nigerians. Surely, his apparent knowledge of Socrates, who the minister quoted, should remind him that none is entitled or allowed to bear false witness against his neighbour or fellow citizens.

For the sake of public peace and order, and the sanctity of our collective public space, let all those who have invoked the authority of our courts, including Giwa FC and its sympathisers, allow the legal process to continue unhindered or short-circuited by low and dirty tricks.

*Edoreh is chairman of Lagos State chapter of Sports Writer Association of Nigeria (SWAN)