Operatives of the Directorate of State Security Services (DSS), acting on ‘orders from above’, yesterday flushed out Ambassador Chris Giwa and his group, who had occupied the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) secretariat on the premise he was the duly elected president of federation, from the Glass House and restored the current executive board of the body, led by Amaju Pinnick, to power.
But Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, who had been championing Giwa’s case since his appointment in 2015, insists the Plateau-born former club proprietor remained the legitimate NFF president, going by orders of a Jos High Court.
Giwa had on July 1 forcefully taken over the NFF secretariat as president-elect of the federation, claiming his authority from a Supreme Court ruling.
He also made some appointments, including choosing Emmanuel Ikpeme, as the acting General Secretary of the NFF in place of Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, who occupied the position under Pinnick’s administration.
Following the Federal Government’s intervention, Amaju and Sanusi, as well as other board members, were restored top their positions immediately.
A grateful Sanusi, who addressed members of NFF staff yesterday, directed them to ignore any changes not made by him and asked all staff to go about their duties peacefully.
NFF boss, Amaju Pinnick, also expressed gratitude to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, for his fatherly intervention to restore the leadership of the federation and bring sanity back to Nigeria football.
“We must give all the credit to our President, Muhammadu Buhari, for acting to restore the leadership of the federation and saving the nation the embarrassment,” Pinnick said.
He added: “Even as the situation persisted, I was very positive about his patriotic commitment to the best interest of the nation and his clarity of judgment to bring order to bear.
It is said that the sheep cannot be suffering the pangs of birth tied to the stake while elders are around.
He has demonstrated this fatherliness in so many ways across various sectors and now football is the latest beneficiary.
We thank God for his life and for giving him to us.
“By his intervention, the nation has been saved the embarrassment, the world football community has been reassured of the high sense of responsibility of the government of Nigeria as a member of the international community and hope is brought back to thousands of Nigeria youths engaged in football as the various national teams can proceed on their various programmes without apprehension, the various leagues which were stopped under the circumstance can now get back to action while the confidence of the various sponsors, partners and investors in Nigeria football has been restored.”
Pinnick, however, insisted that there were no winners or losers in the resolution of the crisis.
“Football is about people, about unity. The game belongs to the fans and the pride belongs to the nation.
The people are deprived when football is inhibited but with the action of the President, Nigerians can now enjoy what they love most,” he added.
Intriguingly, despite the Presidency’s intervention, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung still insists that Giwa has the mandate to lead Nigerian football.
In a statement he signed and sent to The Guardian, Dalung said nothing has changed after the Supreme Court ruling and orders of the Federal High Court in Jos on the NFF on April 27, 2018.
He said: “As far as I am concerned, nothing has changed.
There is no development after the Supreme Court ruling of April 27, 2018 and the Federal High Court Order of June 5, 2018 because the court has not vacated the order.
“Those who are presently trying to instigate confusion, using the name of the President must be aware that the President cannot go against the rule of law.
The Order issued by the court has not been vacated and the President cannot vacate a court order because there are clear-cut processes of doing that.
“The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has already initiated a process of trying to bring the stakeholders together, to work out a road map out of this quagmire.
The Stakeholders’ meeting billed for Tuesday July 24, 2018 will still go ahead as planned.