FIFA only recognises Pinnick as NFF President – Infantino

FIFA President Gianni Infantino says the world football governing body only recognises Amaju Pinnick as President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

He made the declaration on Friday while addressing a press conference in Moscow, Russia, following a court order which directed Mr Chris Giwa to take over the leadership of the Nigerian football governing body.

“Nigeria Football Association has a president, his name is Pinnick,” said Infantino. “We have been already clear about that some time ago.”

“I heard the issue came up again, but the situation is very clear; we have statutes, we have regulations. There can be no interference in the running of the association and for this reason, Pinnick is working here in an official capacity,” he added.

The FIFA president noted that Pinnick was duly elected as NFF President in accordance with the rules of the global body.

He insisted that it is not for any other body to intervene in the matter and warned the Nigerian government that continued interference might lead to sanctions.

“For FIFA, he (Pinnick) is the president elected by the members of the Nigeria football association and that’s the end of the story,” Infantino affirmed.

“If any external body thinks that they can change the situation, then Nigeria would risk being banned like it happened in other countries because we have democratic processes and they just need to be respected.”

Back in the country, the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, said the Federal Government has played no role in any of the cases.

He told reporters in Delta State that the crisis has lingered for more than 15 years and urged parties involved in the NFF leadership tussle to settle their issues internally.

Mr Pinnick has been involved in a serious legal tussle since he assumed office as the NFF President in 2014.

Giwa and some other persons had approached the Federal High Court, Jos, on September 19, 2014, arguing that the Pinnick-led executive was not the authentic NFF executive elected on August 26, 2014.

Following a number of court cases, the Supreme Court set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Jos, Plateau State, on the discontinuation of the case on the leadership tussle in the football body.

The appeal court later held in 2016 that the case could no longer be relisted before the Federal High Court, having been earlier withdrawn by the appellants.

But a five-man panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, unanimously set aside the judgment of the appellate court in late April 2018 and sent the case back to the Federal High Court where the trial started in 2014.

June 5, 2018,  Justice M. H. Kurya of the Federal High Court, Jos, held that the NFF election conducted on August 26, 2014, under the leadership of Chris Giwa be given recognition pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed in the case.

He also ruled that the purported ban of the Executive Committee elected on August 26, 2014, from football activities of the NFF was unconstitutional, null and void.

Referring to the ruling in a statement on July 2, the sports minister asked Pinnick to respect the order of the court and step aside as NFF President.

Dalung had attributed the directive to a written notification from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, requesting him to ensure compliance with the court rulings on the matter.

Hours later, Giwa, who has since insisted that he is the duly elected president of the NFF, arrived at the NFF headquarters amid heavy security operatives to take control of the body.

 

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