The Supreme Court on Friday sent the suit seeking the sacking of the Amaju Pinnick-led executive committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) back to the Federal High Court sitting in Jos, the Plateau State Capital, where it started in September 2014 with an order to give it an accelerated hearing.
Other members of the five-man panel, comprising of Justices Dattijo Muhammad, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Chima Nweze and Ejembi Eko, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, refused the request to make pronouncement on the suit seeking the sacking of the Amaju Pinnick-led executive committee.
The court also did not restore the earlier order of the Federal High Court, nullifying the election of the Pinnick-led executive committee.
Members of the panel, unanimously set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal, sitting in Jos, which held, in its judgment that the case could no longer be re-listed before the Federal High Court, having been earlier withdrawn by the plaintiffs.
But, the Supreme Court held in its judgment on Friday that the case could be re-listed before the Federal High Court after the settlement talks on the dispute broke down, but rejected the plea by the appellants to have the case heard and determined on its merit.
The appellants had, in the main, appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal nullifying the Federal High Court’ re-listing of the case, and requested the court to take over and determine it because of “the need for the expeditious disposal of the suit”.
The apex court agreed with the appellants, in part, by allowing the re-listing of the case, but held that the “core conditionality” that could warrant it to take over the case which ought to be heard by the Federal High Court had not been met.
Yahaya Adama and Obinna Ogba, the appellants, who are the plaintiffs in the original suit sent back to the Federal Court for hearing had, on September 19, 2014 filed their suit before the Federal High Court in Jos, praying for among others, that they, along with others allegedly elected on August 26, 2014, be declared the legitimate executive committee members of the NFF.
The defendants to the suit were the then outgone executive committee of the NFF represented by its President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, and Musa Adamu, the Plateau State Football Association, representing the football association in the 36 states of federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and the Minister of Sports.
On September 19, 2014, the Federal High Court granted an ex parte order restraining the NFF from conducting its General Assembly and the NFF went ahead to conduct the General Assembly at which the Pinnick-led executive committee was elected on September 20, 2014.
On September 23, 2014, the Federal High Court, nullified the General Assembly and the elections which produced Pinnick and other members of his executive for being held three days earlier in defiance of a pending suit and the court’s restraining orders.
Due to a settlement talks said to be brokered by then President Goodluck Jonathan, Adama and Ogba, on October 30,2014, applied to withdraw the suit and the court promptly struck it out.
The court then set aside the previous injunctive orders made against the elections of Pinnick-led executive.
With the talks said to have broken down, the plaintiffs subsequently applied for the re-listing of the case, a prayer the court granted.