By Colin Udoh:

The Nigeria Football Federation on Monday warned against a growing penchant for taking football matters to ordinary courts of law.

Former President of the Nigeria Referees Association Sam Sam Jaja became the latest to head for the courts after Ray Nnaji, a former referee also took his case to court.

Both men are seeking election into the board of the Nigeria Premier League and are aggrved at having been disqualified.

It is a development that has left the NFF un-amused.

“Some persons within the football family appear to have forgotten the etho that you don’t take a football matter to an ordinary court of law. Those persons are living in dreamland and have been recruiting unsuspecting or equally ignorant fellows into their fold.

“Our warning today is that anyone who takes football matters to ordinary court of law in this country will begin to face the music. We are very serious about this. Those persons who like to go to ordinary court on football issues at the drop of a hat should go and read Article 64 of the FIFA Statutes and Article 75 of the NFF Statutes,” NFF General Secretary, Bolaji Ojo-Oba said in Abuja.

Article 64 of the FIFA Statutes reads, inter alia:
1) The Confederations, Members and Leagues shall agree to recognise CAS as an independent judicial authority and to ensure that their members, affiliated Players and Officials comply with the decisions passed by CAS. The same obligation shall apply to licensed match and players’ agents.
2) Recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations
3) The Associations shall insert a clause in their statutes or regulations, stipulating that it is prohibited to take disputes in the Association or disputes affecting Leagues, members of Leagues, clubs, members of clubs, Players, Officials and other Association Officials to ordinary courts of law…”

Article 75 of NFF Statutes reads:
1) NFF, its Members, Players, Officials and match and players’ agents will not take any dispute to Ordinary Courts unless specifically provided for in these Statutes and FIFA regulations. Any disagreement shall be submitted to the jurisdiction of FIFA, CAF, WAFU or NFF
2) NFF shall have jurisdiction on internal national disputes, i.e. disputes between parties belonging to NFF. FIFA shall have jurisdiction on international disputes, i.e. disputes between parties belonging to different Associations and/or Confederations.

According to Bolaji Ojo-Oba:
“Football has its own operating rules and ways of getting justice, and there are avenues for aggrieved persons to ventilate their grievances and seek redress, all the way to FIFA and even the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“We will no longer tolerate reckless abuse of rules and regulations and we don’t want jesters and clowns in the football space. The Nigeria Football Federation will henceforth come down hard on violators of these articles,” Ojo-Oba concluded.

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