NBBF Constitution, illegal Kano election and future of basketball

*The untold truth revealed with facts, figures

From Sam Ahmedu

  1. Based on the copy of the Draft Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) Constitution distributed at the AGM on 30th July, 2017, which was not brought back for another vote by the same AGM after amendments were purportedly made by some states/stakeholders away from the venue, and bearing in mind that no other apart from this Draft has been seen by anyone, any other document being brandished as Constitution of the NBBF other than this not acceptable.
  2. Note that the so called Constitution was not initialed/signed by the authentic list of Stakeholders who purportedly passed it. Even if the attendance list at the AGM where to be attached to it, it will also render the document useless because there are many people on the attendance list who had no business voting on a document of which they are not representing a constituency of the sport and neither were they duly accredited delegates for the purpose based on the letter sent by the NBBF dated 14th January, 2017. (Attached.) The likes of a former Secretary General of the Federation, who had retired from the Ministry of Youths and Sports was present and voted. The Gombe State Delegation were 5, Abuja over 10 and all voted whereas the Letter of invitation provided for 2 delegates per State for the AGM under reference.
  3. The Minister’s letter directing the then NBBF President to stay action on the document pending the conclusion of investigation based on the Petition written by States itself renders implementation of the flawed document a misnomer because at that time, the NBBF was under the Ministry of Sports which brought it into office in 2013. The NBBF cannot therefore claim to have written a Constitution without the approval of its stake holders and vetting by the Ministry of Youths and Sports.
  4. Kano-elected board members of NBBF
    Kano-elected board members of NBBF

    The entire constitution stricto senso is therefore a nullity. The Kano renegade group cannot therefore claim to have a Constitution because the process was flawed.

  5. Also, the document was never deposited with the NOC and FIBA. Which is why the NOC only listed 5 Federations with Constitutions that have been endorsed by their international Federations and the NBBF is not one of them.
  6. May it also be known that notwithstanding Paragraph 5 above, the 5 Federations with acceptable constitutions agreed to taking part in the election conducted by the Ministry of Sports and the NOC.

ANALYSES

Be that as it may, an analyses of the document leaves much to be desired and it shows the clandestine spirit behind the document which does not meet the minimum standard required by law.

  1. PREAMBLEUnder the Preamble, the document opens with the statement, ” In exercise of its mandate to promote, protect and develop the sport of basketball in Nigeria, the Nigeria basketball Federation hereby enacts and confers the following provisions as its Constitution to guide it in its endeavor”.

Observation / Historical Perspective

The word “mandate” indicates the NBBF got its mandate from somewhere and since it did not create itself. The body is responsible to who gave it that mandate. The Federation (Nigeria Amateur Basketball Association -NABBA as it then was) was established in 1964 by the National Sports Council/Commission (NSC). The NSC has changed to the Ministry of Youths and Sports severally. The same body was responsible for appointing persons onto the Boards of all National Sports Associations. NABBA became a Federation in 1994 after the Barcelona Olympics during which appointments onto the Federation’s Board remained the order of the day. From 1997 the NSC/Ministry of Sports began to conduct elections onto the Boards of the National Sports Federations.

The NBBF is therefore excising based on its mandate arising from its establishment by the NSC/Sports Ministry. It is trite that if you get your mandate from a source, you are responsible to that source. In this case, the NBBF is responsible to the Ministry of Sports established by law to supervise all matters relating to Sports in Nigeria. As a corollary therefore, the NBBF is responsible to the Ministry of Sports which has the authority to vet its Constitution and other matters relating to it before it can operate in Nigeria.

The NBBF or the Kano renegade group cannot claim autonomy on its own without any law backing it. The Kano Renegade group has mistaken the case of the NFF with their own claims. They are not the same. NFF has autonomy and this is created by Nigerian law. Decree 10 and Decree 11, which were later merged to be Decree 101 during Military rule provided autonomy for the NFA as it then was. On return to Civil rule , the 1999 Constitution provides that all existing Decrees were to be adopted as Acts of the National Assembly and by implication Decree 101 became the NFA Act.

With this law (now amended as the NFF Act), the NFF retained its autonomy related to administration guided by its international Federation’s statutes (FIFA). Hence the NFF produced its Constitution approved by its entire Congress in Nigeria and adopted by FIFA. However, the Government, through the Ministry of Sports still has some regulatory functions related to accountability since it funds the NFF, football still being considered as a National Asset. This explains why while other members of the NFF are elected onto the Board, the Secretary General is appointed by the Sports Ministry.

Against this background, with respect to the other National Sports Federations (NSFs), while autonomy is desirable, they are not backed by any law to be autonomous without the express permission of the Sports Ministry/Government which created them. For those NSFs which rightly are seeking autonomy, the Sports Ministry which represents Government will have to scrutinize their Constitutions to ensure it does not violate any aspect of the Nigeria law and that they do not contain provisions that are repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. Thereafter autonomy can follow.

The question we should ask ourselves is whether this process has been met? The answer is no. If so the so called “Constitution” is balderdash. I am a member of FIBA Africa Central Board and President of FIBA Africa Zone 3, the highest ranking Nigerian in an International FIBA body. FIBA ‘s position is clear on this issue to the effect that National Basketball Federations are only admitted in FIBA because they are representatives of their countries and not on personal recognition.

It is not for example a Babs Ogunade or Samuel Ahmedu Basketball Federation, but Nigeria Basketball Federation and therefore the country’s Government which gives the Federation that legitimacy must endorse the Federation either directly or through its National Olympic Committee, otherwise FIBA will never admit that body. What more can explain this better. For sake of the future, the process will be;

  1. Either amend the National Sports Commission Act (NSC Act) to include Autonomy for all NSFs or

enact a new law granting autonomy to all NSFs

  1. NSFs create Constitution Drafting Committees to produce Draft Constitutions which should include

representatives from the 6 Zones, Club owners, Players and other constituencies in the Sport. For

those who already have approved constitutions they are free to adopt what they already have.

  1. Draft Constitution is then sent to all States Associations for final perusal.
  2. The Board now forwards the Draft Constitution to the NSC/Ministry of Sports for vetting by its

Legal Department.

  1. Final Draft is brought to an AGM for approval based on one State/Constituency = 1 vote with 2/3

votes of the delegates required to adopt the Constitution, with the Ministry of Sports,NOC and if

necessary representative of FIBA to be present.

  1. Copies of adopted Constitution   is now sent to NOC, NSC/ministry of Sports and FIBA for record

purpose.

In exceptional cases a body in exercise of its constitutional right can register with the CAC as an incorporated Trustee and function independently as an Association ( for example the Nigerian Baseball & Soft Ball Association). With such registration this gives autonomy to the Association which can however represent the country if the Ministry of Sports gives it the go ahead to “carry the country’s flag”.

However, the so called Constitution of the Kano renegade group is worthless because of many flaws which include the fact that it was not signed by the Delegates who passed the document and it did not follow due process.

Other issues with the “Constitution”

  1. Article 5 – Affiliation – This Article provides that the Federation shall maintain liaison and affiliation with the NOC, Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports and any other relevant National, regional or international organization of mutual interest. (Note the word shall).

Observation

The former Board violated this mandatory provision it inserted on its own because on this matter of Drafting and adopting this so called Constitution it failed to liaise with the Ministry of Sports, NOC or FIBA. Even FIBA Zone 3 which can be designated a regional body was never consulted. Rather the President of the Zone (myself) was locked out from the AGM.

  1. Article 6.4 – Object – This Article provides that the objective of the Federation shall include -to compile, update, maintain the rules and regulations governing basketball sport in Nigeria in accordance with the international Basketball Federation (FIBA) Statutes and Bye laws.

Observation

If the Constitution is written in accordance with FIBA Statutes then why does it violate the FIBA Africa Bye laws which provides 2 Terms for the President of FIBA Africa ( Article 5-29 to 5-32) of the FIBA Africa Bye Laws. ( Page 21 Paragraph 10) of the FIBA Africa Congress working Document in Mali May 2017. The so called constitution contradicts the FIBA bye Laws mentioned above which provides for 2 Terms for its President, as well as the spirit of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is in pari material and encourages 2 Terms for public officers.

  1. Article 7- Membership – This Article provides that the membership of the NBBF shall compose of Basketball Associations of all States of the Nigerian Federation which are governing bodies controlling basketball in the States. Only one Association in each State shall be recognized by the NBBF.

Observation

There are 36 States in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Even though the FCT competes as a State for ease of administration, it has not been recognized in this so called Constitution because the 1999 Constitution did not give it a Status of a State. That is why for example while every State in Nigeria elects 3 Senators each to the Nigerian Senate, the FCT elects only 1 Senator to the Senate. By implication therefore, the FCT Basketball Association which has been an integral part of the NBBF in Nigeria has been left out of this purported Constitution. The document ought to read the 36 States and the FCT.

There was an attempt to amend this at the AGM, however, if such an amendment was indeed made, it ought to be brought back for ratification by the AGM which authorized the amendment. But as I write, no State or Club in Nigeria has seen a copy of the so call Constitution which the Kano renegade group claim to be working with. Why was the amended Constitution not sent to all the States of the Federation and the FCT, as well as other stakeholders of Basketball in Nigeria. Is it a secret document?

Ipso facto and stricto senso, you cannot “shave a man’s hair behind his back”. This is what the Kano renegade group has done and in the light of this, the so called Constitution is unknown to Basketball Stakeholders in Nigeria and is null and void on the basis of this.

  1. Article 9 – The Board These include – Article 9.1 to 9.4 that list the members of the Board, which include:
  2. One rep to be nominated by the Referees Council.
  3. One rep to be nominated by the Coaches Association.
  4. One rep to be nominated by the Technical Commissioners Association.

Observation

If this Constitution is drawn in line with FIBA Bye Laws, then what has happened here does not conform with FIBA Bye Laws. There are no Referees rep and Technical Commissioners Rep of the Board of FIBA Africa or FIBA. In FIBA Africa we have the Presidents of Technical, Competition, Coaches and other Committees who are elected on their own merit. These members who are members of the Central Board do not vote for the President or Secretary General candidates in the elections. Only the National Federations vote. Two issues arise here.

  1. To be nominated onto the Board by the Referees, Coaches or Technical Commissioners’ Associations means that only those persons who are already members of that Association ( likely the Heads of those Associations) who are already cronies of the President of the Federation will be nominated unto the Board. This then locks out aspiring candidates and only helps to create votes for an incumbent President who wants to hold tight to power. And which is exactly what has happened in the renegade Kano election where the 3 persons heading those Associations sheepishly followed their ” leader” to Kano and were “appointed’ onto the Kano Board, thus locking out any other aspiring candidate in Nigeria. They therefore got onto the Board through the backdoor without any input from   the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT, not considering their competence or otherwise.
  2. The 2nd issue is the legitimacy of the Coaches, Referees and Technical Commissioners Associations., whether they are legally recognized bodies? To be legally recognized, they have to be registered under the CAC where the rules governing them will be clear for all to see. Presently, I consider these bodies as concentration of cronies of the President without any legal backing.

The Constitution provides for One rep of Athletes but does not say if he or she would be elected or nominated and by whom.

Article 9.2 – provides for the President to be elected directly by and within the Membership of the Board as constituted in Paragraph 9.1. 13 persons electing the President and Vice President, whereas only 6 persons out of the 13 are elected from the Zones while 7 (majority ) are likely to be appointed by an incumbent President does not met the universal standard of fairness. In FIBA elections which the so called Constitution claims to be its guide, the Countries in each Zone of Africa vote for their Zone Presidents who now become members of the Central Board. However, they do not stop there. Each country individually also votes for the President, Secretary General and other electoral positions to the FIBA Africa Central Board. This is pari material to what the Ministry of Sports/NOC Guidelines have provided whereby States vote for their Zonal Reps and also Vote for Presidents and Vice presidents directly as well. This is a more open system which paves way for a free and fair democratic process.

Article 9.3 . Tenure of the members of the Board – This Article provides for the Tenure of the Board Members. It provides that the President, Vice President and other Members of the Board of the Federation shall be elected to a term of office of four(4) years and may be eligible for re-election.

Observation

This does not provide a Term limit for the President. By the provision in this so called Constitution, technically he or she can remain as President of the Federation for life and turn the Federation into a group where only he and those considered as cronies would remain. The disturbing fact is that with the use of words like “May be re-eligible for election” this likely life term agenda was couched in very clever legislative language with the aim of deceiving the unwary/unsuspecting reader. The word May does not in any way restrict the President from re-contest for life. in the absence of any specific term limit.

The above provision is not only repugnant to natural justice and good conscience, it clearly violates the spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the FIBA statutes which the Kano renegade group claim to be following.

Article 9.9 d, e & 9.15 – Removal of Member of the Board – Article 9.9d provides for removal of a member of the Board viz; if a meeting of the Board, at anytime by Resolution, due notice of which shall be given, disapprove of the appointment of any such Member or of his continuing in office, while Article9.9e provides that ; if such member here willfully and without special leave of absence fails to attend meetings of the Board for a period of one year….

Observation

it can be inferred the drafters of this Constitution were merely in a hurry to acquire power.   Through this, the President and other loyalists on the board can expel anyone they feel is not in support of their agenda once they have the majority. The group is being giving the power of being the accuser, prosecutor and Judge at the same time in violation of the operative legal maxim; ” Nemo Judex incausasua”, meaning you cannot be a judge in your own case.

Paragraph 9.9e which also gives the Board the same powers in case of absence for one year also falls within the same frame. The Constitution does not provide for the alleged offender to have the opportunity to defend himself before a disciplinary Committee or like body before such heavy and far reaching decisions are taken. It does not provide for a reasonable line of action leading to replacement of the person concerned if he or she was elected from the Zone. This means the Zone and States under it will be disenfranchised and shut out from activities of the Federation. The same applies to Article 9.15 which gives the Board the unilateral powers of suspension broadly without going through any hearing process .

Arrticle 9.16 – By the same token, Article 9.16 provides that the Board will take all necessary steps to ensure that the interest of the Federation is preserved and protected.

Observation

The likely interest of the Federation are not listed. Examples of these should have been listed. The danger here is for the President of the Federation to confuse his personal interest with that of the Federation . This clause is vague and Omnibus one and needs to be expunged.

Article 10.7 – Meetings – Article 10.7 provides that the accidental omission to give notice to any member entitled under these provisions or the non receipt by a member of any such notice shall not invalidate the proceedings of the meeting;

Observation

This cannot be acceptable under the eyes of the law. Take for example where matters concerning a Board member is discussed at a Board meeting where the member was not invited or where he is invited but the notice did not get to him through no fault of his. If sanctions were to be taken against him without having opportunity to state his own side of the matter, would sanctions placed on his head be binding? It cannot be because it would amount to a breach of his fundamental right of fair hearing.

Article 10.8 – Quorum – Article 10.8 provides that No business shall be transacted at any General Meeting unless a quorum of members is present at the time when the meeting proceeds to business. Unless otherwise provided herein, the quorum shall be half of the number of persons entitled to attend and vote.

Observation

This provision is too bland and is general in nature. While this is permissible for ordinary and routine meetings of the Board, it cannot be acceptable for a General Meeting where very serious and policy matters like the Constitution are decided upon. At least 2/3 of the member States eligible to vote need to be Present to form a quorum while   a simple majority of those present and voting will ratify decisions at the AGM.   For the amendment of the Constitution however, 2/3 majority of the votes would ratify any such constitutional amendment.

Article 10.10Article 10.10 Provides that at any General Meeting, unless a poll is demanded by the Chairman or by at least 1/3 of the Members present , a declaration by the Chairman that a Resolution has or has not been carried shall be conclusive evidence of that fact;

Observation

This is a dangerous provision smuggled into the constitution to give the President the sole right to do things that suits his personal wishes. This is dictatorship to the highest order. All matters not brought to the floor of the General Meeting and those not raised cannot be deemed to have been passed or not passed at the whims and caprices of the President. This is really another dictatorial provision aimed at giving the President unfettered powers to do and undo as he pleases. This is not acceptable in a public trust which the Nigeria Basketball Federation is.

Article 11.1 & 11.2 – Election of Office Holders Article 11.1 – provides that the election of the President, Vice President and other Board Members will be held every four years. Such election shall be in consonance with FIBA Statutes and Internal Regulations and in conformity with this Constitution; while Article 11.2 provides for the Federation to constitute an electoral panel for the conduct of the election and where necessary , may seek advice and technical or logistics support from FIBA, NOC and the Apex Sporting Authority;

Observation

It beats the imagination how a President and his Board members would be allowed to constitute an Election Panel to conduct an election where they themselves are candidates in the same election. This does not only violate the fundamental principles of not being a judge in your case, there is a likely hood of bias. The law frowns at such position not only when there is bias, the minimum standard for such an election to be rejected is the likely hood of bias as was with the renegade election in Kano where the members of the same outgone Board appointed a so called Electoral Committee to return them and their cronies to office.

Article 11.8 – Observation of Election by Relevant Bodies – Article 11.8 of the so called Constitution provides that to ensure a credible, free and fair election, FIBA, Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and the Apex Sports authority shall observe such election.

Observation

Assuming but not conceding that this so called Constitution were to be accepted, the Kano renegade group are even in violation of their own Constitution because neither FIBA, NOC nor the Apex Sporting body (which is the Ministry of Youths and Sports), were present as observers at their so called election as provided by their own Constitution. The Kano renegade election which was held a day earlier than those of the Ministry of Youths and Sports and the NOC, contrary to the Ministry of Youths and Sports/ the NOC Guidelines is to say the least a washout. How come all the NSFs, including the 5 which had approved constitutions held their elections in Abuja, conducted by the Ministry of Sports and the NOC in accordance with the accepted Guidelines by all and only the renegade group waived their right and chose to organize an illegal election in Kano without approval?

Going further, the Original of the so called Constitution ought to be signed by all the States of the Federation and the FCT who purportedly passed it. The poor quality document circulated at the AGM of 30th January, 2017 does not have such signatures. And therefore does not meet the standard of a Constitution.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

The above raises very serious questions about the authenticity of the so called Constitution. Be that as it may, I wish to add the following questions/food for thought:

  1. 1. What type of body purports to have written a “Constitution” and yet cannot respect or abide by that same document?
  2. What type of body claims to have drawn a Constitution and yet does not circulate the document to its constituents up till date?
  3. What type of body fills it’s so call Constitution with dictatorial powers to “wage war” against   the stakeholders it claims to be representing.
  4. What type of body rushes to draw up a” Constitution” barely two months to the end of its tenure to perpetuate itself in power after spending 8 years in office.
  5. What type of civil servants, whom out of inordinate ambition to perpetuate themselves in office , will challenge the authority of the Minister of Youths & Sports, albeit the Federal Government of Nigeria under which some of them work, under the guise of a fictitious FIBA backing?
  6. What type of persons brought into office as President and members of the NBBF by an election conducted by the Ministry of Sports in 2009 and returned to the same post by another election conducted by the same Ministry in 2013, who having served 8 years as President and members of the Federation will to turn around to deny that Ministry and Government, accusing them of interference because the basketball Stakeholders have rejected them?

CONCLUSION

For the first time in the history of NSFs elections in this Nigeria, there has been a concerted effort for a free and open elections where all relevant stake holders have been given an opportunity to express their will through their votes. While it is conceded that some aspect of the process may not have been perfect, however it was transparent, bearing in mind that no election is ever 100% perfect.

I make bold to invite anyone to a debate on this issue because I am convince that those who chose to ridicule the system at this period for selfish interest will be exposed at the end. Thanks for your time.

God is in Control.

Colonel Sam Ahmedu (Rtd) is the President, FIBA Africa Zone 3 and Member, NBBF Board 2017-2021.

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