The chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abuja branch, Mr Abimbola Kayode, has informed stakeholders from the Rufus Giwa-led faction of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) that the Federal Government’s recognition of Amaju Pinnick as Presisent of NFF was to save Nigeria from FIFA’s wrath.
Victor Baribote, proprietor of Nembe City FC; Harrison Jala, President Nigeria Professional Football Association, and Barrister Faye Jacob, legal adviser of Nembe City FC, had at the weekend visited the Wuse Zone 6, office of the Unity Bar to felicitate with Kayode on his emergence as the chairman of the Abuja branch of NBA.
Baribote said the visit was to lodge complain against the position taken by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (then Acting President) in recognising the Amaju Pinnick led board of NFF.
Baribote, a board member in Giwa’s faction of NFF wondered why Osinbajo and others who had sworn to pay allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and protect the lord 1999 Constitution, would now do otherwise.
He said, “Now they have thrown our sovereignty to the dustbin by saying that the laws of Switzerland are now superior to Nigerian laws.
“That is why we said, let us come and lay our complain before the NBA; if you can lend your voice by telling Nigerians that what we have done will not augur well for Nigeria because the opposite of law is lawlessness.
“We have to complain against the VP cos his letter to FIFA was against the enforecement of an order of a Federal High Court, which had directed that Giwa should be in office.
He told the NBA Unity Bar Chairman that stakeholders in support of Giwa, “want every Nigerian to see the line toed by the acting President as an affront to the constitution and judiciary in the country”.
“We are therefore calling on you to use your good office to see how you can help to guide Nigerians that it is not right in law” Baribote pleaded.
He warned that, “We cannot sit and allow people destroy football that Nigerians are so passionate about”.
But Kayode, who declined to speak on behalf of the national body, rather aired his personal views on the protracted crisis and issues raised by Baribote concerning the position taken by Osinbajo in recognizing the Pinnick led board of NFF.
Without mincing words, Kayode, told the self acclaimed stakeholders that Nigeria would have been suspended by FIFA if not for the letter of the acting President to the world football governing body recognising Pinnick as NFF President.
He said. “If you ask me, and speaking for myself, I agree that the then acting President was right in his decision.
“We all know that as at the day the presidency communicated to Switzerland, there was no option left for FIFA to suspend Nigeria from all football activities.
“Being a Professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he had looked at the pros and construction to arrive at that decision”.
Contrary to the reasoning of the Giwa’s faction that Nigeria’s constitution is sacrosanct and therefore must be obeyed without sentiments, Kayode insisted that the position taken by the acting President Osinbajo (as he then was) saved the country from imminent FIFA suspension.
“He (Osinbajo) did not set aside the order of the Supreme Court as you are infering; what the then acting President did, was to ensure that Nigeria is not taken out of football circle because competitions are going on” Kayode argued.
The protracted leadership crisis rocking the NFF got to a peak following FIFA’s threat to suspend Nigeria over government interference in football activities.
In a bid to avert FIFA’s hammer, the acting President, last week conveyed FG’s position to the world football governing body, assuring that the Federal Government would continue to work with stakeholders to resolve the federation’s dispute in due time.
Osinbajo added that the government is upholding NFF’ s treaty obligations to FIFA, indicating Nigeria’s firm position recognising Amaju Pinnick-led NFF as the current and only NFF executive.