Bring back Pinnick or get banned, FIFA issues fresh warning to Nigeria

NFF president Amaju Pinnick

World football governing body, FIFA, on Monday issued an ultimatum to Nigeria to reinstate Amaju Pinnick as president or risk an inevitable ban from the game.

Pinnick, 41, who was elected head of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in 2014, was asked to vacate office by a Federal High Court ruling on Friday – with Chris Giwa declared winner.

The judgement prompted an immediate offensive from Giwa and his cohorts who stormed the NFF secretariat on Monday but were denied access to the Glass House by the Police.

FIFA recognises the presidency of the Delta-born administrator and strictly repels government interference in the game.

In a letter dated April 11, 2016, FIFA’s acting secretary general, Markus Kattner, said the ruling is classed as “interference.”

“The decision of the Federal High Court in Jos, if implemented, would likely be considered as interference in the internal affairs of the NFF and the case would be brought to the highest authorities of Fifa for consideration of sanctions, including the suspension of the NFF,” the letter read in part.

“All members associations have to manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties. In addition and according to article 68 of the FIFA Statutes, recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations.

“Furthermore, it is the duty of each member association to ensure that these provisions are implemented by its members and possibly take sanctions against those which fail to respect these obligations.

FIFA also acknowledges that it is the second time that Giwa has resorted to legal action as well as a futile appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in his attempt to run the country’s football affairs.

“We would like to stress that the plaintiff in question already filed an appeal in relation to the same matter with the highest judicial sport authorities, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and that said appeal was dismissed by the CAS on 18 May 2015.”

Pinnick had appealed the High Court ruling but FIFA, however, has taken a dim view of the development and warned that Nigeria risked suspension if the sacked officials are not reinstated as soon as possible.

The ongoing power struggle means Nigeria’s Olympic team is at risk of being banned from Rio this year, and the Super Eagles could be denied a chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.