• Minister, candidates, and others meet today over Federation elections
• They risk going to jail, says PFAN
World Football governing body, FIFA, has reportedly advised the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to reconcile its differences with aggrieved parties ahead of its elective congress scheduled for Benin City, Edo State on September 30.
Nigerian football has been in turmoil for the past two weeks, with legal battles casting doubts on the chances of the NFF elections holding as scheduled.
A Federal High Court in Abuja, led by Justice Inyang Ekwo, recently stopped the NFF election, ruling that all parties should maintain the status quo. He adjourned further proceedings until October 31.
His order followed a suit filed by the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN) against the NFF over unequal representation of all the five statutory bodies that make up the NFF in terms of voting rights and representation on the board, its congress and committees.
Another group, known as Nigeria Football Stakeholders, has also threatened to ‘bomb’ the election venue in Benin City, if the poll is not cancelled.
In a letter signed by Dogogo Johnbull and addressed to Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, the group warned that ‘blood will flow’ if they refuse to heed their demand. It claimed that the present NFF board, headed by Amaju Pinnick, committed so many atrocities.
The Guardian learnt yesterday that the NFF wrote to FIFA, alleging interference from several quarters in the build-up to its election in Benin City.
“FIFA actually replied NFF, who wrote to them that there is interference. But FIFA told them to go and reconcile with the aggrieved parties,” a source close to the football body said yesterday.
MEANWHILE, the Professional Football Association of Nigeria (PFAN) has dispatched a letter to FIFA stating that: “As of today, the NFF is not a registered body and not known to the laws of the land (Nigeria) as in FIFA, where it is registered under the Swiss laws.”
The letter to FIFA dated September 25, made available to The Guardian yesterday, signed by the Deputy Secretary General/PFAN Secretary Project 2022 Task Force, Comrade Edema Fuludu, added: “Even the dominant 37 States Football Associations are not juristic personalities, yet they are the ones overriding the congress and foreclosing other members in connivance with the executive committee.
“PFAN has been part and parcel and voted in all previous congress and elections, including the 2014 and 2018 elective assembly in Warri and Katsina respectively. However, the union was barred from being part of the congress on August 18, 2022, in Lagos, which is not in agreement with Action 10.1 and 22 sub (D) to avoid the demands for Statutes Amendment from the Union.
“PFAN made an official complaint about the conduct of the former President, Amaju Pinnick, to the FIFA Ethics Committee in a letter dated October 14, 2021.
“Having exhausted the internal mechanism and excluded in the composition of the NFF board, its congress and sub-committees with one member (The State Football Associations) having 37 votes in the 44 member General Assembly and 11, out of 14 members on the NFF board; and having failed to establish any internal arbitration process to resolve internal dispute hence, the NFF have adopted the conventional court as means of resolving issues as enshrined in Article 1.1 of the Statutes of the NFF, which the outgone board was beneficiary of a judgment of the Court of Appeal, Jos Division, in suit No CA/J/119/2016.
“On the strength of this, the PFAN Task Force approached the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, praying the court to address the issue on the skewed NFF Statutes, which imbalance in representation tilted towards 37 voting rights to one member (States Football Association Chairmen). With a pending matter in court in which the NFF was duly represented in several sittings so, they still proceeded with the activities to conduct the purported September 30, 2022 election.
“The claimants and the court will be helpless as it was in the light of the above that the court ordered on September 15, 2022, that the election be put on hold until the substantive matter is heard and resolved,” PFAN stated.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Fuludu said: “They are planning to undermine the court injunction, so we need to get forms 48 and 49 that will send anybody to jail. The outcome of the meeting tomorrow with the Sports Minister will determine a lot. So, after tomorrow we will know if the elections will hold or not.”