The attention of the League Management Company Limited (LMC) has been drawn to a statement by a group claiming to be the “Board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)” in clear contravention of the known football governance statutes and regulations and also purporting to direct the Chairman of LMC Shehu Dikko and the Chief Operating Officer (COO) Salihu Abubakar to step aside on grounds of an alleged committal to prison of the two officers by a Jos High Court in 2016 for contempt of court in the case involving one Mustapha Abubakar (suing for Giwa FC) and LMC.
The LMC has so far maintained a studied silence since the contrived crisis in the NFF took root as we always believed the extant football rules, regulations and statutes would utimately prevail and the company would want to, in line with it’s own governance rules, maintain this stand.
It needs be stated, however, that the so-called committal which was done ex-parte (in the absence of the officers) was appealed in 2016 and quashed by the Court of Appeal, Jos Division, in April 2017. Given the shocking violation of the rules of fair hearing in the proceedings and conduct of the case at first instance, the Lower Court Judge was reported to the Nigeria Judicial Commission (NJC) for misconduct, by LMC.
For the avoidance of doubt and for public guidance, the LMC is a limited liability company governed by all applicable law, operated and governed by the LMC governance structure which was approved by the 20 NPFL club in 2013, NFF Executive Comittee in 2014 and indeed ratified by a bona fide General Assembly (Congress) of the NFF at it’s meeting in Lagos 2014. The LMC governance structure is also registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in line with it’s extant rules on corporate governance. Accordingly, the LMC Regulations or governance structure has clear cut provisions and processes for appointing and removing its directors, including the Chairman and COO among others.
The LMC looks forward to a speedy resolution of all issues in Nigerian football administration in line with the stipulated rules and regulations within the football statutes (NFF and FIFA Statutes) and would elect to monitor situations as they would affect the smooth administration of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), in line with the mandate granted it by the NFF General Assembly (Congress), the highest legislative decision making organ in national football administration.
We, therefore, urge all stakeholders in the NPFL to remain calm especially as the on-going situation may have negative consequences on the League if not properly managed. Already, some of the major sponsors and patners are reviewing their positions while some other potential sponsors have since suspended negotiations which were virtually concluded before the eruption caused by thus totally unwarranted crisis.
For further clarifications, it should also be noted that the issue of the expulsion of defunct Giwa FC from the NPFL in 2016, for serial violations of the Rules of the League, which was at root of the said committal of the two officers, has since been decided in favour of the LMC by the Court of Appeal, Jos Division judgement of April 7, 2017.
It is important to state that the Court of Appeal, Jos Division, headed by Justice HOA Abiru, in the judgement decided the two issues raised in the appeal in favour of the LMC.
The Court of Appeal ruled that Justice Kunda of the Jos High Court lacked the jurisdiction to continue the hearing of the case following LMC appeal of his order and, directed him to stay off the case.
The Court of Appeal further ruled that Justice Kunda was hasty in his decision to grant ex-parte order directing the LMC to suspend the league instead of hearing from both sides. It also held that Mustapha Abubkar (who for and on behalf of Giwa FC sued the LMC lacked the locus standi to sue on the matter.
In dismissing the ruling of Justice Kanda, the Court of Appeal also quashed the said ex-parte committal of the LMC officers.
The LMC has, therefore, instructed its legal team to study the injurious and baseless statements credited to these elements in order to determine what steps to take to seek legal redress to protect the integrity of LMC, the NPFL brand, our participating clubs, our partners and sponsors and, indeed, the integrity of Association Football.