The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has condemned the action of the Chris Giwa group in disturbing the operations and peace of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) through the re-listing it’s case at the Jos High Court.
SWAN made the condemnation in its Full Council Meeting held in Ilorin, Kwara State on April 30.
In a communique issued after the meeting SWAN called on the Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrrister Solomon Dalung, to act decisively to save the nation’s football.
“That we condemn the action of the Chris Giwa group in the lingering crisis threatening the peace of our football and call on the Sports Minister to take a decisive step to put an immediate end to the national embarrassment.
“That all stakeholders in sports should eschew personal aggrandizement and allow for the development of sports in the country especially during this Olympic year.”
After several months of peaceful operations, a group led by Ambassador Chris Giwa, Chairman of Giwa FC of Jos, had re-launched its bid to take over the leadership of the NFF, ostensibly taking advantage of Giwa’s personal and political relationship with the minister of sports, Solomon Dalung.
It will be recalled that the congress of the NFF and Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) rejected and invalidated the purported election of Chris Giwa as NFF President in 2014 and proceeded to conduct another election in Warri at which the incumbent president, Amaju Pinjick, emerged.
While the Amaju election was subsequently supervised and approved by FIFA, the Chris Giwa group represented by Obinna Ogba, now senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and one Yahaya Adamu, seeking to nullify the Amaju election sued the Nigeria Football Federation to the court in Jos against the statutes of FIFA which states that all administrative and political disputes in football should be redressed not through regular civil courts but through the channels of FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
In reaction to the litigation, FIFA threatened to ban Nigeria from its competitions. To avert the ban, former President Goodluck Jonathan intervened to urge the Giwa group to withdraw the case from the regular courts and seek redress through agreed channels for the resolution of disputes in sports.
Accordingly, the Giwa group approached the Jos court to discontinue the matter while they filed appeal at the CAS which subsequently sat over the matter and dismissed Giwa’s requests.
With the withdrawal of the matter from the regular court and the dismissal of its appeal at the CAS, Nigerians felt the Giwa group had had their day in both court and arbitration and considered the matter rested.
Indeed, the Amaju NFF board enjoyed a year-long of peaceful operations until, following the the appointment of Solomon Dalung as minister of sports, the Giwa group relaunched their offensive against the NFF, culminating in the application to the Jos High Court for the re-listing and re-opening of the case which they have succeeded in doing with hearing fixed for May 30.
Curiously, the Giwa group over-interpreted the re-listing of the case and reinstatement of the earlier orders of the court, hitherto cancelled following their withdrawal, to mean an order of court for Giwa to assume the leadership of the NFF as they indeed went on to announce the dissolution of the Amaju board, its committees and their replacements and threat to physically take over the secretariat, actions which gave the false impression of a parallel leadership and thus raising apprehension about possible FIFA sanction in consequence as FIFA itself has written to warn. To forestall a breakdown on order the minister had to requests the protection of the police over the secretariat of the NFF.
Whereas Dalung has stated severally that he is not behind the renewed offensive by Giwa, he seems to be squeezing the Amaju board to provide accommodation for members of the Giwa group into the current board of the NFF as a bargain for final resolution.
According to Dalung, Giwa has specifically asked for four board seats, including a vice presidency position, to be conceded to his group in order for him to stop the fight. The minister has suggested that an extra-ordinary congress could be called to make this happen.
Critics however believe that the request by Giwa and the call by the minister are completely out of order as they tend to undermine the rights of members of the NFF board who contested and won election in their own right and also the regulatory statutes and political circle of election into the board.
It has also been pointed out that such concessionary treatment for Giwa and his group would lead to a barrage of renewed agitations, litigations and requests by various other persons and interest groups who had had grievances but had dropped their dispute with the NFF at different times.
SWAN has considered the renewal of the dispute as an embarrassment to the nation and has called on the minister to, as the head of Nigerian sports, to make a decisive declaration to bring the cacophony to a full and final end.
Further from the Full Council Meeting, SWAN also requested the sports establishment to provide the enabling environment to bring out the best of Nigeria athletes to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games while it also set machinery in motion for a change in its leadership.
“That the sports ministry and the NOC should ensure proper and adequate preparation for Team Nigeria’s successful participation at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to avoid a repeat of the 2012 disastrous participation in London.”
Ahead of its triennial elective congress, SWAN set up a seven-member Electoral Committee headed by Alhaji Yusuf Isah of Yobe State with Gabriel Nwanetanya of Rivers State as secretary. The committee has been charged to conduct elections into the National Executive Council (NEC) within 90 days.