A Federal High Court sitting in Jos, on Friday ordered the recognition of Chris Giwa as the President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). Justice Musa Kurya who gave the order, also barred anybody from interfering with the duties and functions of the NFF board under the leadership of Chris Giwa. Kurya also granted Giwa’s motion seeking the re-listing of his case against the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF.
It would be recalled that Adama Yahaya and Obinna Ogba had approached the court to re-list the matter which they had earlier withdrawn, after intervention by former President Goodluck Jonathan. The Federal High Court had in a ruling on Oct. 23 2014, nullified the Warri General Assembly and the subsequent elective congress that brought in the current NFF board, led by Amaju Pinnick as NFF President.
Faced with a threat of FIFA ban, the then President Jonathan, intervened which led to the matter being withdrawn by the Chris Giwa-led faction of the NFF. At the last sitting on March 10, 2016, counsel to the plaintiffs, Habila Arzard, said that his clients decided to re-list the matter since most of the issues surrounding the leadership of the NFF remained unresolved.
Arzard told the court that the delay in filing the re-listing was because his clients were waiting for the office of the President to conclude its intervention. The counsel said that they had paid the cost of N10,000 for the delay and prayed the court to re-list the case for the hearing of the substantive suit.
“My lord, contrary to the argument by my learned colleague that you do not have the power to relist the matter, the court has the powers and discretion to relist the case.” The respondents’ lead counsel, Festus Keyamo, in his argument, asked the court to strike out the motion on notice for lack of due diligence in filing the motion.
According to him, the applicants did not show respect for the court in delaying the case for 13 months before applying for relisting. “My lord, I urge the court to dismiss the applicants’ notice and I urge this court to do so with punitive cost so that such applicants will no longer take the judiciary for granted,” he said.
Reacting to the judgment, Arzard commended the ruling, saying that his client withdrew the case but did not foreclose it. He said that his clients had been vindicated and “can now settle down and resume all their functions because that is all we have been fighting for.”
Meanwhile the Amaju Pinnick-led board has vowed to file an appeal challenging the ruling. The case has been adjourned till May 30, 2016 for the substantive hearing of the suit. (NAN)