NPFL|League matches continue despite court order

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Fixtures of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) will continue to hold as scheduled, according to a statement by the League Management Company (LMC) released on Friday.

The LMC said it was among several other grounds, relying on the motion filed for stay of execution of Mr. Justice I.I Kunda's latest order made in disregard of the notice of appeal filed against his first order. The League body also stated in addition to the stay of execution filed, it has also filed a notice of appeal against the order of the Plateau State High Court, Jos stopping matches of the NPFL until full compliance with the earlier interim order of the Court directing the reinstatement of Giwa FC to the League and rescheduling of matches for the club. It also raised the question on how the Judge  found an urgency in fact as required by law to make the first interim order ex-parte three months after Giwa FC was expelled from the League under the League Rules, for failing to play three consecutive matches. Mr. Justice I.I. Kunda, the vacation judge of the Plateau State High Court, Jos division made the earlier order in a fundamental human right suit filed by an individual, a certain Mustapha Abubakar, who claims to be acting for himself and Giwa FC. Mustapha claims that the expulsion of Giwa FC had denied him the right to enjoy matches of the club after he bought season's ticket. The said tickets were found to have been purchased even when the club was yet to be registered to participate in the NPFL season, thereby violating provisions governing the league. But the LMC's position also is that the narrow and singular interest of the said Abubakar cannot override that of millions of fans of the other 19 NPFL Clubs, corporate partners of the League, the players and myriad other interests that are attached directly and tangential to the League. "We cannot accept that these multifarious and incalculable interests can be held to ransom and subjected to the whim of an individual with no connection, whatsoever, with the operation of the League", the LMC continued on why the league cannot be stopped. The LMC said that this decision to continue with the fixtures is part of some urgent steps to preserve the integrity of the NPFL and protect it from irreparable damage. The League body expressed surprise that the Judge will make the orders even after it has been brought to the court’s notice through a written affidavit that Giwa FC has written the LMC stating categorically that it never mandated the plaintiff or anybody to sue on its behalf.   It continued, “This letter from Giwa FC is a restatement of the written undertaken of the club to abide by the rules and regulations governing the league and football in general and, not to take football matters to the ordinary court”.   ‘By the written undertaking, the Club states that it should be considered that it has voluntarily withdrawn from the League and organised football activities if it takes any football matter to the courts for adjudication, rather than the internal dispute resolution mechanisms provided by the Rules, including the right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).   From a business and commercial standpoint, the League body drew attention to several written and informal contracts on which the league is built and that these contracts bind several interests and interrelationships that make for smooth operation of the league.   It went on to cite the return of NPFL fixtures to the Maiduguri Township Stadium, home of El-Kanemi Warriors as a critical positive contribution of the league in demonstrating that the Federal Government has achieved huge success in containing the Boko Haram insurgency which ravished most of North Eastern Nigeria since 2012.   The LMC therefore assured the public that it will remain resolute in ensuring that NPFL, the flagship of Nigeria football, is operated and managed in accordance with the Framework and Rules of the League and other football governing rules.

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