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NFF Crisis: Lawyer To Giwa Led Board Replies Keyamo




The attention of the Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) elected on 26th August, 2014 has been drawn to a press statement issued on 26th August, 2018 by the office of Festus Keyamo, SAN Counsel to the Amaju Pinnick led purported Board of the NFF on the current situation of Nigerian football. 



Ordinarily, we could have ignored the press statement, but for the misinformation contained therein and its design to mislead and hoodwink unsuspecting Nigerians into according unmerited credibility to the Amaju Pinnick led illegal Board of the NFF.


In the press statement, Festus Keyamo, SAN sought to mislead Nigerians by alleging that there was no court order preventing Amaju Pinnick from acting as NFF President and installing Chris Giwa in office. We wish to clarify that by the order of the Federal High Court made on 23rd October, 2014, the election of 30th September, 2014, which purportedly brought Amaju Pinnick to office was nullified. This order was not contingent on any futuristic occurrence and was thus final. 


The application upon which the order was made was not Ex-Parte, but was on Notice and in its judgment delivered on 27th April, 2018, the Supreme Court gave recognition to this order. If the purported election which produced Amaju Pinnick and his group was nullified, can they and their purported Board be said to have a legally recognized mandate? 


The Supreme Court had at various times clarified that if something is said to be a nullity, such a thing does not have existence. The foregoing position is anchored on an elementary principle of law that you cannot put something on nothing, and expect it to stand. Moreover the order of the Federal High Court made on 5th June, 2018 in clear terms restrained Amaju Pinnick and his team from parading themselves as the Board of the NFF. Furthermore, the orders of the Federal High Court made on 19th September, 2014 and 5th June, 2018 in clear terms gave recognition to the Ambassador Chris Giwa led Board of the NFF and compelled the government and relevant security agencies in the country to enforce same. 


The learned Festus Keyamo, SAN also contended that the names of Chris Giwa and Amaju Pinnick were not mentioned in any of the orders made by the Court. This contention to say the least is misleading. The suit at the Federal High Court was a representative action instituted on behalf of all members of the NFF Board elected on 26th August, 2014, including Chris Giwa. Similarly, by laying claim to the Presidency of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick was taking benefit from the illegal act of the former board of the NFF. This being so, he must also take the corresponding liability associated with the conduct of that same board. It is immoral to take benefit of the action of the former board of the NFF and duck the liability that comes with the same conduct. Moreover, the name of Amaju Pinnick clearly appears in the order of 5th June, 2018 wherein he and his purported board were restrained from parading themselves as the legitimate board of the NFF.


Bizarrely, Festus Keyamo, SAN contended that the order that was restored by the Federal High Court on 8th April, 2016 was the order made on 30th October, 2014 striking out the suit. It would be recalled that the order made on 8th April, 2016 inter alia relisted the suit which was withdrawn and struck out on 30th October, 2014, It therefore defies logic and common sense that the order made to relist a case would be interpreted to mean it confirmed the striking out of the suit. 


If Keyamo, SAN has conviction on his point, the question to ask is why did he appeal against that order to the Court of Appeal? Was it that he was dissatisfied that the court restored the order striking out the suit?

Keyamo, SAN asked a question that if Giwa had orders in his favour from the Supreme Court why did he return to the Federal High Court? The question whether or not the Supreme Court affirmed the  restoration of the orders of the Federal High Court nullifying the election that produced Amaju Pinnick and his group and recognizing the Chris Giwa led Board is not debatable. Both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court being Appellate Courts do not enforce orders as only the court of first instance can do so. Having gotten the orders made by the Federal High Court recognized by the Supreme Court, the Chris Giwa led Board must go back to the Federal High Court being the Court of first instance to have those orders enforced. This was why the Chris Giwa led Board approached the Federal High Court Jos for the orders of 5th June, 2018. 


The learned Festus Keyamo, SAN is familiar with this elementary procedure, but chose not to appropriately educate the general public on same.  

To demonstrate that the learned Festus Keyamo, SAN was economical with the truth, in one breath, he contended that there was no order of court removing Amaju Pinnick from office and installing Chris Giwa in office, but in another breath he complained that Chris Giwa “surreptitiously sneaked” to the Federal High Court to obtain an order on 5th June, 2018 removing Amaju Pinnick from office and installing him. 


The learned Senior Counsel cannot approbate and reprobate all at the same time. The truth deficit in the position he canvassed resulted in his inconsistency.

It was also the contention of Keyamo, SAN that all the orders made by the Federal High Court in favour of the Chris Giwa led board were Ex-parte and that each abated after 14 days. To put the records straight, the order of 23rd October, 2014 which nullified the purported election of the Amaju Pinnick led board resulted from an application made on notice and that order being final cannot abate. 


Even if the suit instituted by the Chris Giwa led board at the Federal High Court fails, that would not bring back to life the purported election which produced the Amaju Pinnick led Board. It was the realization of this that made the Amaju Pinnick group to always resort to threat of FIFA ban to whip public sentiments in their favour. They, however, forgot that the law does not work on sentiments, otherwise justice will never be achieved. While emphasizing the primacy of justice in a polity, the Supreme court at various times held that justice must be done, even if the heavens would fall. 


The Chris Giwa led board with unwavering faith in the course of justice has pursued its case through the court of law and not through subterfuge as the Amaju Pinnick led board has demonstrated in its constant resort to threat of FIFA ban. Has anyone not wondered why FIFA went to Ghana and investigated the Ghana Football Federation dispute and even hosted Ghanaian Government delegation in Zurich, but blatantly disrespected Nigeria by refusing to honour a request from our government to visit Zurich to discuss the situation in Nigeria? If FIFA could visit Ghana and also receive Ghanaian government delegation in Zurich, why not Nigeria? 


Amaju Pinnick and his group for self ends have subjected our country and our judicial system to ridicule before the whole world. Would FIFA muster the guts for whatever reason, to decline a request from any of American, British or German governments to visit Zurich for a discussion when it couldn’t even decline a request from Ghana? How would FIFA ever respect Nigeria again when our government can capitulate to cheap threats and blackmail? 


To show that FIFA could neither give recognition to the purported election that produced Amaju Pinnick and his group nor refuse to give recognition to the election that produced the Chris Giwa led board and was merely being used to blackmail Nigeria, CAS in its judgment in the suit filed by the Giwa led board before it held as follows:

“The purpose of the second challenged letter, which states in its relevant part….was not (and could not have been) to recognize the elections of 30 September, 2014 as alleged by the Appellant, because under its own rules FIFA does not have the authority to positively recognize the elections of its member associations.”    (Emphasis supplied)


If FIFA does not have power to recognize any election of its member associations can it force Nigeria to give recognition to the purported election that produced the Amaju Pinnick led Board? Amaju Pinnick and his group have pushed Nigeria into trading its sovereignty and rights under the same self FIFA statutes for their selfish interests. Regrettably, the Nigerian government out of panic failed to study FIFA statutes and CAS judgments to protect its sovereignty, but fell to cheap blackmail perpetrated by persons, who can trade the dignity of this country in order to keep their hold on football in the country.   


The order made on 19th September, 2014 was made pending the determination of the Motion on Notice pending before the court and the order of 5th June, 2018 was made for the purpose of enforcement of all previous orders. This order of 5th June, 2018 was executed on 2nd July, 2018, but strangely the Amaju Pinnick group showed their aversion to the rule of law and respect for our judicial process and court orders - as has always been the case, when through the DSS they attempted to prevent the Chris Giwa led Board to function. 


If not for the unwarranted appeal filed by Keyamo, SAN on behalf of the Amaju Pinnick Board to the Court of Appeal against the relisting of the suit by the Federal High Court, the substantive suit would have long been determined, yet Keyamo, SAN in his statement twisted the facts to portray the Chris Giwa led board as responsible for the non-determination of the substantive suit till date.

The statement of Festus Keyamo, SAN alluded that Chris Giwa lost his bid to validate his election before CAS. It is either that the learned senior counsel never read the text of the CAS award/judgment or he deliberately set out to mislead Nigerians. In its award, CAS held as follows:

“Conversely, this panel may not assess the validity of the various NFF elections on the basis of the NFF rules or of Nigerian law because such appraisal falls outside of the scope of FIFA’s authority under Article 17 of its statutes and thus falls outside of this panel’s scope of review….the panel does not rule that the election of 26th August, 2014 was invalid under its proper law, because this finding would fall outside of this panel’s scope of review” (Emphasis supplied). 


The validity of the election that produced Chris Giwa led board was never determined by CAS. This put to lie the narrative of the Amaju Pinnick group that the Chris Giwa led Board went to CAS and lost. As a matter of fact, the CAS finding that FIFA does not have authority under its statutes to recognize any election of its member associations binds FIFA.


Festus Keyamo, SAN unfairly denigrated the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports (HMYS) as partisan and biased in this matter allegedly because the HMYS accepted the advice of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF) dated 26th June, 2018, but failed to implement the advice of 20th July, 2018 that status quo be maintained.  With due respect to the learned senior counsel, his view of the conduct of the HMYS was devoid of honesty and good faith. Firstly, it would be recalled that in 2016 when the Federal High Court relisted the suit and restored all the orders previously made in the suit, the HMYS declined to restore the Chris Giwa led board to office insisting that the Amaju led board had a right of Appeal, which must be respected and exhausted.


 The Amaju Pinnick led Board at that time celebrated the HMYS for standing with the law. Secondly, when the Chris Giwa led board obtained the order of 5th June, 2018, the HMYS first sought advice from the HAGF before complying with same. It is baffling and smacks of mischief for Keyamo, SAN who ought to celebrate the HMYS for standing with the rule of law to prejudice the minds of unsuspecting and misinformed Nigerians against him. If the Amaju Pinnick group celebrated the HMYS then for toeing the path of rule of law, why do they now condemn him for doing the same thing? 


Moreover, the order made on 5th June, 2018 having been executed/enforced on 2nd July, 2018, cannot be stayed or over turned by the HAGF as doing so would amount to executive interference in judicial process which is dangerous for the rule of law and our democracy. In any other country, the HMYS would be commended for sticking with the law. The criticism of the HMYS by Keyamo, SAN betrays the desperation of the Amaju Pinnick led board to go any extent to colonize the NFF. This should serve as warning to those aiding them to subvert the rule of law and disrespect valid orders of courts of law that tomorrow, if situations change, they may go after them. 


Nothing more underscores the malafide in Keyamo’s Statement than his allegation that Chris Giwa and his group are anti-football development in Nigeria. It is a known fact that in a country where only state governments sponsor football clubs because of the huge cost involved and its unprofitability, Chris Giwa is one of only about two individuals, who privately own football clubs in the premier league before his club was relegated through orchestrated campaign to punish Giwa. 


Giwa has invested several millions of naira to open opportunities for young Nigerians to live their dreams and by so doing, he contributes his quota to not only lifting young Nigerians out of poverty, but also keeping them away from crime. The driving force for him is passion and patriotism. Can Keyamo, SAN tell Nigerians what Amaju Pinnick or any member of his group has done for football in Nigeria? Has any of them invested a single kobo of their money into football in the country? We leave Nigerians to draw their conclusions.


Finally, the press statement of Keyamo, SAN alleges that the Amaju Pinnick led purported board is making plans to conduct elections into the Executive Committee (Exco) of the NFF. The question to ask is whether a purported board, which does not exist in the eye of the law can conduct a valid election into the Exco of the NFF. Without a doubt, the purpose of the alleged proposed election is to perpetuate  Amaju Pinnick and his group, who have made the NFF an estate. 


We assure them that they would not be allowed to continue to blackmail this country with phantom threats of FIFA ban to take Nigerian football hostage for their personal gains. We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to learn from a country like Ghana, which refused to be blackmailed into surrendering its sovereignty and by so doing, forced FIFA to accord it the respect it deserves.

We call on all Nigerians not to believe the misinformation contained in Festus Keyamo’s press statement and not to get weary in the struggle to rescue Nigeria football from the clutches of desperate persons, whose only interest in football in Nigeria is pecuniary. 


H.S. Ardzard Esq.

Counsel to the Executive Committee

Of the NFF elected on 26th August, 2014

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