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Nigeria risks FIFA wrath over leadership row
For the past four years the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has been at loggerheads with itself. This culminated on July 2 with the sacking of the federation’s president, Amaju Pinnik, after the Nigerian government ordered it to comply with a Supreme Court ruling overturning his election in 2014.
The move threatens confrontation with football’s world governing body, FIFA. Previously, FIFA had overturned the election and demanded a re-run, resulting in Pinnick’s win. But the vote was deemed to be flawed and Chris Giwa, the original winner, challenged the result in the courts.
Giwa arrived at NFF headquarters in the capital Abuja accompanied by armed police in an apparent attempt to enforce the court order, which recognises him as the federation’s new head. However, sports minister
Solomon Danung had already ordered Pinnick to comply with the ruling.
FIFA rules insist that member states should “manage their affairs independently with no influence from third parties”.
It has previously warned Nigeria that, if implemented, court rulings could be considered to be an interference in the NFF’s internal affairs and thus attract sanctions.
The NFF’s lawyer, Festus Keyamo, indicated in June that Chris Giwa had been banned by FIFA, but Giwa’s supporters are positive that FIFA will not uphold the ban.
Critics of Amaju Pinnik accuse him of being contemptuous of the courts and of running a questionable election campaign in 2014.
President-general of Nigerian Football Supporters Club, Rafiu Ladipo, believes Pinnik’s exit will bring about much needed change in the way football is administered in the country as well as achieve better results on the field. “Four years of Pinnick was motion without movement, no meaningful achievement,” he said referring to Nigeria’s national side the Super Eagles’ disappointing performance in the 2018 World Cup when they crashed out at the group stages after losing to Argentina.
Others also confident that the change of leadership will be good for the Super Eagles as they start the qualifying campaign for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in September.