The counsel to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Festus Keyamo (SAN), Wednesday said Nigeria was at the risk of a FIFA ban following the latest developments in the NFF.
A Jos court failed to deliver judgement on the case between the embattled NFF President Amaju Pinnick and his challenger, Chris Giwa.
The four year-old case was expected to be resolved at the Federal High Court in Jos, Plateau State on Tuesday but it was adjourned to September 25.
Pinnick has been the NFF president since 2014 but a Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago gave Giwa the mandate, and he has since assumed office. Justice Musa Kurta, the presiding judge in the case between Yahaya Adama and Aminu Maigari, had, on June 5, given an ex-parte order granted Giwa and others, pending the determination of an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case. Instead of finally resolving the case, drama ensued on Tuesday as both sets of lawyers failed to agree on certain processes and Justice Kurye adjourned to September 25, as he noted that the court was on vacation.
Keyamo told NAN in an interview that an imminent ban loomed for Nigerian football if the right steps were not taken by the parties involved.
â€œThe grave implication of the adjournment and failure to resolve this case is that Giwa will continue to claim leadership of the NFF in defiance of his lack of recognition by FIFA and the global body could ban the country.
â€œThe only NFF recognised by FIFA is the one headed by Pinnick, who is also the Vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
â€œI have pointed out to the court that the FIFA hammer is eminent. Let us not pretend that this is not happening.
â€œThis is not for myself, Pinnick or Giwa but for the future of our country. It is for the future of our children who earn a daily living from football.
â€œThe loss and catastrophe will be so colossal that even our local league will be affected. So, I am just sounding a note of caution to everyone involved that the earlier we dispose of this, the better,â€ he said.
He noted that FIFA had already reacted in a letter written to NFF, stressing that the world football governing body did not mince words in the letter.
â€œIt clearly stated that what is happening in Nigeria is seen as an interference in the affairs of football because the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) had decisively given its verdict on this matter.
â€œGiwa and Co. lost in CAS and were given a worldwide ban and as such FIFA noted in the last paragraph of the letter that if the case was not rescinded, it could lead to severe sanctions on Nigerian football,â€ he said.
On the issue of the appearance of a new counsel, Samuel Shankyula, who announced that he now defends Maigari and Ahmadu with an affidavit deposed to the effect, the senior advocate said: â€œWe are going to confer with our clients with regards to the latest developments in the case.
â€œThe new counsel showed up from nowhere because he did not contact us previously. We were not informed by Maigari and Ahmadu of any development in this matter.
â€œWe had previously defended Maigari and Ahmadu from the court in Jos to the Court of Appeal, all the way to the Supreme Court and back to the court in Jos and they did not raise any objection.
â€œAll of a sudden because of certain intrigues in the football family, they appeared in court on Tuesday to say they were no longer willing that we represent them.
â€œIt also clear that the new lawyer in question has taken sides with Giwaâ€¦ so, these are all the intrigues going on,â€ he said.
Keyamo has been defending the trio of Maigari, Ahmadu and Plateau State Football Association as well as the 36 states and the FCT associations until the latest development.
In his reaction, Giwa noted that there were no issues with regards to who the legitimate president of NFF was, adding that he was fully in charge of the Nigeria football house as things stood.
â€œMost importantly is the fact that the new counsel to the case clearly admitted that the election that produced Pinnick was marred by some challenges.
â€œThe counsel also advised that both parties adhere strictly to the Supreme Court ruling which restored the orders of the Federal High Court, setting aside the purported election into the Executive Committee of the NFF held on September 30, 2014,â€ he said.