NFF Leadership Tussle: Supreme Court Sends Giwa’s Group Back to Federal High Court

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

T he Supreme Court on Friday declined to hear the appeal filed by a factional group of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), seeking the removal from office, the Amaju Pinnick-led executive.
The group had approached the apex court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which recognized the Pinnick-led executive as the authentic leadership of the NFF.
But delivering judgment on the appeal yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to sack the Pinnick-led executive and instead ordered that the suit be returned to the Federal High Court in Jos, Plateau State, where the matter originally started.
The five man panel of the apex court in its judgment although, set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal, it however declined to invoke section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, that empowers it to take over the case and decide it on merit.
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Samuel Onnoghen, in the lead judgment read by Justice Ejembi Eko, held that a core condition among the four that needed to be present for it to take over such suit was absent in the appellants’ case.
“The real issue raised up by the claim of the appellants at the lower court (the Court of Appeal) must be seen to be capable of being distilled from the grounds of appeal,” the CJN held.

Consequently, the apex court then ordered that the suit “be remitted back to the trial court for expeditious hearing”.
It however, made no pronouncement on the injunctive orders made against the Pinnick-led executive committee.
It would be recalled that the appellants, Yahaya Adama and Obinna Ogba had on behalf of themselves and other members of their factional executive in their appeal, prayed the apex court to uphold the decision of the Federal High Court which ordered the relisting of the case.
The appellants, who were plaintiffs in the main suit had asked the Federal High Court in Jos, to sack the Pinnick-led executive on grounds that their election was held in defiance to a court order. The court in its September 23, 2014 judgment sacked the Pinnick-led executive.
However following mediation by former President GoodLuck Jonathan, the plaintiffs applied to withdraw the suit.
Consequently, the suit was struck out and the previous injunctive orders made against the elections of Pinnick-led executive were also set aside.
However, following a breakdown of talks among the parties, the plaintiffs subsequently applied for the re-listing of the case, and were obliged by the court.
The court in granting the prayer also restored all the injunctive orders set aside while earlier striking out the suit.

Not satisfied with the ruling of the Federal High Court, the defendants which include, the then outgone executive committee of the NFF represented by its President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, and Musa Adamu, the Plateau State Football Association representing the football association in the 36 states of federation and the Federal Capital Territory, and the Minister of Sports, approached the appellate court to upturn the judgment of the lower court.
The Court of Appeal in its judgment of July 25, 2016, however allowed the appeal and nullified the judgment of the Federal High Court.