Nigeria escape FIFA ban, recognise Pinnick as NFF president

NFF president Amaju Pinnick

The Federal Government has announced its recognition of the Amaju Pinnick-led executive as the authentic leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a message he posted on Twitter on Monday.

The tweet, which was sent few minutes before the 12 pm deadline given by FIFA for the resolution of the leadership tussle in the Nigerian football governing body, said the government had already informed FIFA of the decision.

“The FG has already conveyed to FIFA its firm position recognizing Amaju Pinnick-led NFF as the current & only NFF Exco,” Akande tweeted.

FIFA had on Tuesday, August 14 said it would suspend Nigeria from football activities if they failed to comply with its instructions by Monday at noon, thereby excluding the country from next month’s African Nations Cup qualifiers.

The NFF voted in FIFA’s recognised Pinnick, in 2014 but his long-standing rival, Chris Giwa, appealed against that result and, after a protracted legal battle, the High Court ruled in the latter’s favour in June.

Giwa was handed a five-year ban by FIFA for breaches of NFF statutes and the FIFA code of ethics in February 2017.

But he appeared to have the backing of sports minister, Solomon Dalung, who included Giwa in a proposed list of delegates to meet FIFA president Gianni Infantino in Zurich last week – an idea FIFA rejected.

FIFA does not accept third party interference in its member federations and said the NFF must be led by Pinnick.

FIFA, in a statement by its Media Office, said it had been notified about ongoings in the NFF, and it viewed them as “undue interference in their affairs’’.

It said Nigeria must ensure the NFF offices in Abuja were occupied by the Pinnick-led executive by Monday.