*2016/2017 season is illegal, null and void
Court of Appeal, Jos Division, has sustained the order of the High Court of Plateau State directing the League Management Company (LMC) to compulsorily re-instate Giwa FC of Jos to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), after the Jos based Club had been expelled from the NPFL for alleged multiple infractions of the Rules and Framework of the League in the 2015/16 season.
The Appeal with suit number CA /J/260/2016 was decided on a three grounds in favour of Giwa FC of Jos and one ground in favour of the defendants, the League Management Company (LMC). The Court of Appeal judgment was read by Justice H. O. A. Abiru.
The grounds of appeal and decisions of the Appeal Court:
Four issues were before the Court of Appeal in Jos for determination and they included, one, LMC’s challenge of Justice Kunda of the High Court of Plateau State exparte order directing the reinstatement of Giwa FC of Jos into the NPFL in a case filed by Mustapha Abubakar on behalf of Giwa FC of Jos against LMC pending hearing of the case.
The Court held that the appeal against the order of the High Court made on 12th August 2016 had merit on the ground that there was no real urgency shown to have warrant the granting of the ex-parte order. She ruled in favour of the League Management Company (LMC) on that ground.
The second issue which was before the court to also determine was whether the LMC’s challenge of Justice Kunda’s order suspending the NPFL pending the determination of the appeal after he had ruled that his court lacked the power to continue hearing the case following LMC’s appeal of his first order asking him to stay off the case.
The court dismissed the challenge of the jurisdiction of the High court to hear the case. She ruled as a result in favour of the plaintiffs.
The third ground before the Court of Appeal was whether the LMC’s appeal of the order of Justice Kunda charging and convicting two officials of the LMC in their absence for contempt for not obeying his earlier order suspending the league.
The court struck out all other applications including the one that sought setting aside of the order of committal of the two NPFL officials for contempt of court. This by extension means that the duo of Alhaji Shehu Dikko and Salisu Abubakar can still be made to serve the 14 days in prison.
In addition, the Court of Appeal refused to set aside the order of the High Court made on 31st August 2016 which suspended the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) holding that the trial judge had the right to protect the res of dispute and was not wrong to have suspended the NPFL. This by extension may have jeopardised the current football season as being illegal, null and void.
How the matter in court started: www.gongnews.net recall that the rulings emanated from a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by one Mustapha Abubakar, a supporter of Giwa FC of Jos who claimed that the expulsion of the club from the NPFL has denied him the right to get value for season’s ticket he purchased.
Justice Kunda of the Jos High Court had made an order of committal of Shehu Dikko and Salisu Abubakar for failing to obey his earlier ex-parte order directing the reinstatement of Giwa FC of Jos to NPFL three months after the club had been expelled from the apex Nigeria football league for alleged multiple infractions of the Framework and Rules of the League.
The judge of the lower court made the orders at the instance of a Abubakar who claimed to act for himself and Giwa FC of Jos.
Abubakar had filed a suit before the Jos High Court claiming that the expulsion of Giwa FC of Jos from the League was an infringement of his fundamental human rights.
No official statement or reaction is yet to come from the parties in the matter which the Court of Appeal has taken a decision.