Chris Giwa, a factional President of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, has declared that the country's football organisation will not be banned by FIFA, the world's football governing body.
Giwa made this known on Friday while reacting to comments earlier made by Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, on the recent developments in Nigerian football at a press conference in Russia's capital, Moscow, ahead of Sunday's World Cup final.
Infantino had on Friday said "the situation is very clear. Pinnick was duly elected some years ago, and FIFA is aware of all this."
But in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Victor Iroele, Giwa reassured Nigerians not to panic as his administration had followed the laid down procedures stated in FIFA statues.
He also accused Remi Sulola, The Cable journalist who asked the FIFA President about his views on the matter, for attempting to bring Nigerian football into disrepute.
The statement read: “Today, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, addressed a world press conference at the ongoing World Cup in Russia, where a Nigerian journalist, practically called on FIFA to ban Nigeria in the guise of asking if the world football governing body was aware of developments in Nigeria.
“To say the least, we are scandalised and pained as a Federation that a Nigerian journalist could be in the fore- front of championing FIFA ban of the country. It is also a sad commentary that only in Nigeria can you see some people, with vested and entrenched interests, who have benefitted and still benefitting from football championing the call for the ban of their country.
“We, however, call on Nigerians not to panic about the comment from FIFA President, Gianni Infantino as we have not gone outside the statutes of the Nigeria Football Federation to address the present leadership impasse. The statutes brought us together in football and no single individual can be greater than the country."
Giwa, citing a letter written by FIFA on June 5, stated that the court order declaring him as NFF President is valid as the global football body statues recognise law tribunals which the NFF are under its jurisdiction.
He also mentioned that Pinnick and his board cannot hide under the guise of football cases not being heard in civil courts as they were beneficiaries of the same court's judgements.
It read, “For the avoidance of doubt, FIFA letter dated June 5, 2018, in paragraph three line four states: ‘…recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in FIFA regulations and disputes within a member association shall be taken to an independent and duly constituted arbitration tribunal recognised under the rule of the Association, or confederation, or to CAS.’”
“Both parties had recognised the provision of these statutes above in resolving the present leadership impasse by going to court with Amaju Pinnick benefitting from the Appeal court and addressed the press boasting of even winning at the Supreme Court.
“If FIFA stated that disputes can be resolved by means accepted by the Association, and both parties had subjected themselves to the jurisdiction of Nigerian laws, where did we go wrong or the government, that was joined in the suit, interfere with the crisis?
“In case you are not aware, former NFF President, Amaju Pinnick’s first reaction when the Supreme Court’s judgment was enforced on July 2, 2018 was: “Only CAS can remove me, the Federal Government cannot remove me, so the Minister’s directive is null and void and of no effect.’
“Pinnick and those who share his sentiments should know that where they are today, whether in CAF or FIFA, was because of Nigeria, and any campaign for FIFA to ban Nigeria is a confrontation against the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria.
“The argument about football matters not going to court remains arguable because there are several instances where football matters have gone to court from Jean-Marc Bosman’s case in 1995 that was decided by a European court, to Egypt’s Supreme Court ruling on the Egyptian FA without FIFA raising an eye brow. Lately, a Court in Ghana has given the government powers to liquidate the Ghana Football Association.
“These instances buttress the conviction that Nigerians are actually the ones calling FIFA to ban Nigeria, as the world football governing body must have been misinformed of the genesis of the whole crisis in Nigerian football."
Giwa added that should FIFA ban Nigeria, Pinnick and his cohorts should be held responsible for the situation.
Pinnick and Giwa have embattled in a long leadership tussle a since 2014 over who is the authentic President of Nigeria's football governing body.
Recently, Solomon Dalung, the country’s Sports Minister, ordered Pinnick and his board to vacate the NFF secretariat for Chris Giwa.
Dalung hinged his decision on a Supreme Court order which nullified the election of Pinnick, which held in Warri, Delta State in 2014, and recognised that of Giwa, which held the same day in Jos, the Plateau state capital.