I have just spent the past hour reading through the 53-page decision of the Court of Appeal in the infamous ‘Giwa case’ and thought to pen these thoughts.
On 25th July, 2016 the Court of Appeal, sitting in Jos, overruled the decision of the Federal High Court, which had earlier relisted the case, leading to controversy as to the effect of that decision, with the Giwa group claiming that the decision recognized Chris Giwa as the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Perhaps it is worth stating here that although the original case was actually filed by Yahaya Adama and another (on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Giwa faction) against the members of the defunct Executive Committee of the NFF (led by Aminu Maigari) and others, one will refer to both parties as “the Giwa group” and “the NFF” respectively.
The Court of Appeal Decision
The Federal High Court, Jos struck out the original case on 30th October, 2014. This was after the Giwa group had formally informed the court of their decision to withdraw their case – their reason being “to give greater consideration to national interest”. However, earlier this year, they returned to the Federal High Court, requesting that the case be relisted. On 8th April, 2016 the Court granted their request. The NFF then appealed to the Court of Appeal.
In its appeal, the NFF argued, amongst other things, that the case should not have been relisted after almost two years, since there was no cogent reason to do so.
In arriving at its decision, the Court of Appeal noted the following:
- that it is not permissible for parties to jump in and out of court whenever they like;
- that even though the case technically remained alive due to the fact that it was merely ‘struck out’ and not ‘dismissed’; what was the reason for it to be relisted after almost two years? More so, given the fact that the reason it was struck out in the first place was national interest.
- was it suddenly in the interest of the nation to have the case relisted?
- that the Giwa group did not at any time give any reason why it would now be in the national interest to relist the case.
Upon the above considerations, the Court of Appeal was of the opinion that it was justifiable to set aside the decision of the Federal High Court. It therefore dismissed the application of the Giwa group seeking to relist the case.
The Effect of the Decision
The implication of this decision is that the case remains struck out. This simply means that the Court – and the law – does not recognize any legal challenge to the NFF Presidency of Amaju Pinnick. Presently, this certainly should bring an end to any claim to the NFF Presidency by Chris Giwa.
In his many incursions against the NFF led by Amaju Pinnick, Chris Giwa had often hinged his audacity on the phrase “he who the law of the land recognizes”. One now wonders what his stance will be, given this decision of the Court of Appeal, the interpretation of which is devoid of controversy.
Note: The decision in respect of the suit, Appeal No.: CA/J/119/2016 was delivered by Joseph Tine Tur, JCA on Monday, 25th July, 2016.