By Uche Amunike
Four of the candidates vying for presidential positions in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) election, billed to hold on September 30 in Benin City, have pulled out of the race, in a bid to avoid being convicted.
There has been crisis before now, especially after a Federal High Court in Abuja gave an order, September 15 that the congress should be put on hold.On Wednesday, September 27, the Federal High Court in Abuja granted a plea made by the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN) to commence contempt proceedings against 14 top officials of the NFF including the Appeal Committee, the Electoral Committee and Amaku Pinnick.
A former board member, Amanze Uchegbulam, was the first to pull out of the NFF Election. In a letter which he addressed to the Electoral Committee, yesterday, he stated that he did not want to risk continuing with his plan because of the numerous court cases surrounding the polls.
The letter partly read: ‘I hereby formally bring to your notice my intention not to participate in the NFF election scheduled for September 30, 2022, in view of a well-publicised court order by Hon. Justice I.E Ekwo of Abuja High Court on September 15, stopping the election pending the hearing of the substantive suit.’
Musa Amadu, Mukhtar and Peterside Idah allegedly dropped their ambitions yesterday as well. According to close sources, their letters officially announcing their withdrawal would be made public, following a statement by Sports Minister, Sunday Dare.
The Minister earlier urged the participants to be cautious in respect of the court order, during a meeting with the contestants on Tuesday. To this effect, Idah Peterside, one of the candidates, stated that he had put his decision on hold, out of respect to the court order. He described himself as a law abiding citizen who had no choice than to obey the order given by the court.
Recall that on September 15, 2022, Justice Inyang Ekwo had ordered that elections to the NFF board should be stopped, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction ending before the court.
Presently, one of Presidential aspirants of the NFF, Paul Yusuf, from the North Central Zone of Plateau state, has asked that the NFF Electoral Committee gives him an explanation concerning his disqualification from the electoral process.
The Electoral Committee gave their reason for his disqualification as ‘Invalid Nomination from his constituent football Association (Plateau State FA). While speaking to newsmen at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, the aggrieved Yusuf expressed his shock at the exclusion of his name in the list of cleared aspirants without any prior correspondence from the NFF Electoral Committee on such a decision.
His words: ‘I am in Benin City for the NFF election which is expected to hold tomorrow (Friday), and my name is not on the cleared candidate list. If I am disqualified, the reason for it should be made known to me. Up till now, no body in the NFF electoral committee has called to tell me why I was disqualified and I need an explanation.’
‘They just can’t knock me out of the contest without giving reasons for it. I paid to enter the contest and I feel it is natural for an explanation to be given. As a matter of fact, I followed the process as contained in the booklet they gave to me’, he fumed.
He vowed to go to any length to seek redress.