Festus Abu and Olusola Fabiyi
The Department of State Services has said its operatives are occupying the headquarters of the Nigeria Football Federation in Abuja in order to avoid breakdown of law and order at the secretariat.
One of our correspondents learnt that the DSS decided increase its security presence at the secretariat to prevent any ‘intruders’ from gaining access to place.
Chris Giwa has been locked in a leadership tussle with Amaju Pinnick over the true leader of Nigerian football after separate NFF presidential polls produced the duo.
While Giwa was declared the winner of the election in Abuja on August 26, 2014, Pinnick emerged from the September 30, 2014 poll in Warri.
The Giwa board took control of the NFF secretariat on July 2 after sports minister Solomon Dalung directed the federation to comply with the Supreme Court judgment on April 27, 2018 restoring the orders of the Federal High Court setting aside the election which brought in Pinnick as the president of the national football body.
But DSS operatives allegedly on the orders of the Federal Government stormed the NFF secretariat days later to restore the displaced Pinnick board to power after FIFA president Gianni Infantino told reporters at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 13 that the world football ruling body only recognises Pinnick as the leader of Nigerian football.
With two factions still locked in a battle over the control of the NFF secretariat, FIFA, who frowned upon the alleged government interference in the leadership crisis, on August 14 threatened to suspend the country from all their activities on August 20 if “the NFF offices are not handed back to the legitimate NFF executive committee under Amaju Pinnick, who was duly elected on September 30, 2014”.
The body added in their statement, “The NFF will be suspended with immediate effect for contravening art. 14 par. 1 i) and art. 19, as well as art. 14 par. 1 a) of the FIFA Statutes. The suspension would be lifted only once the NFF, under Pinnick and General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi, confirms that it has been given back effective control of the NFF and its offices.”
Spokesman for the DSS Nnochirionye Afunanya told one of correspondents in Abuja on Sunday that they are not backing any of the two warring factions.
Afunanya said the service was only interested in the country escaping FIFA’s hammer.
He said, “If we are still there, it is because we don’t want a breakdown of law and order by the two factions.
“We also do not want Nigeria to be banned by FIFA. Every effort is to ensure that Nigeria is not banned by FIFA. We are not backing any of the factions.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government was allegedly locked in talks with both factions last night to resolve the impasse and save the country from FIFA wrath.
Sources told one of our correspondents that meetings were held between the two parties.
However, The PUNCH could not confirm if the outcomes of the meetings were successful or not as of press time.
However, Giwa said in a statement his faction was not out to get the country suspended by FIFA.
He said, “In any case, nobody wants Nigeria to be suspended or banned, as efforts are being made to avoid it, even as we know some people instigated it.
“We hope to resolve this unfortunate development caused by people, who think they are bigger than the country and its laws, but no matter how far they go, the long arm of the law will catch up with them someday.”
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