The Court of Appeal, Jos Division, has struck down the order of the High Court of Plateau State directing the League Management Company (LMC) to compulsorily re-instate Giwa FC to the Nigeria Professional Football (NPFL), after the club had been expelled from the NPFL for multiple infractions of the Rules and Framework of the League in the 2015/16 season.
Three issues were before the Court of Appeal in Jos for determination. They included, LMC’s challenge of Justice Kunda of the High Court of Plateau State exparte order directing the reinstatement of Giwa FC into the NPFL in a case filed by Mustapha Abubakar on behalf of Giwa FC against LMC pending hearing of the case.
The second issue was LMC’s challenge of Justice Kunda’s order suspending the NPFL pending the determination of the appeal after he had ruled that his court lacked the power to continue hearing the case following LMC’s appeal of his first order asking him to stay off the case.
The third was LMC’s appeal of the order of Justice Kunda charging and convicting two officials of the LMC in their absence for contempt for not obeying his earlier order suspending the league.
The Court of Appeal in Jos consolidated the three appeals and delivered judgment read by Hon. Justice H. O. A Abiru, ruling on the first, that Kunda lacked the competence to order for Giwa’s reinstatement into the NPFL.
It dismissed that order of the High Court of Plateau State on the grounds that Mustapha, who sued the LMC had no locus on the matter and Kunda was hasty in giving the exparte order instead of hearing from all parties.
The Jos Appeal Court on the second issue set aside the particular order and all other consequential orders made by the lower court on its basis, including the orders committing to prison the Chairman of LMC, Shehu Dikko, and its Chief Operating Officer, Salihu Abubakar, for failing to obey the reinstatement order.
LMC and its officials had maintained consistently that they were not bound by law to obey the orders of the lower Jos High Court because they had already appealed against those same orders.
However, the Court of Appeal upheld the order of the lower Court suspending the 2015/2016 season of the League, pending appeal.
Counsel to LMC, Mr. Olumide Olujinmi applauded the decisions of the Appeal Court as described the ruling on the order suspending the league pending appeal as having expired and of no practical purpose, particularly as the affected 2015/2016 season of the NPFL has long been concluded and a new season commenced.
Olujinmi maintained that “the LMC reserves the right to proceed to the Supreme Court for adjudication on this point if it finds any reason to do so, after thoroughly studying the judgment of the Court of Appeal.”