by Johnny Ogbah
The Police Machine FC of Owerri have cried foul over the shoddy treatment of their Appeal
against Imo FA’s Appeal Committee’s decision to replay their Federation Cup match which was
abandoned by Heartland FC when they refused to take a penalty awarded to them with four
minutes to the end of their quarter final encounter.
In a comment released by Barrister Johnny Precious Ogbah of Activity Chambers, counsel to
Police Machines, the sports lawyer queried the grounds on which the decision was reached,
stating that the Disciplinary Committee of the NFF had which was the body legally empowered
by the NFF Statutes to hear the case was not given the opportunity to do so, whereas the
organisers of the competition unilaterally decided to hold the decison on their own without
“We all know that the NFF has just two statutory bodies empowered to sit over such matters
which is the Disciplinary Committee, and the Appeals Committee. By 10am on Tuesday 15th May
I received a phone call by the secretary of the Disciplinary Committee inviting us attend a
hearing of our matter on Wednesday 16th May and immediately made arrangements to fly down
from Abuja to attend to it. However, my Clients informed me that a letter had arrived from
the NFF dated 14th May 2012 saying that a decision had been reached by the Organisers of the
Federation Cup to uphold the Imo FA decision.
“I got here this morning and the answers I received from the NFF were not at all
satisfactory. I also went to the Disciplinary Committee and the secretary informed me that
our matter was on the list of matters to be heard but that they were ordered to remove it as
a decision had been reached by the Organising Committee. We now ask the question, on what
grounds did the Organisers, or Oganising Committee have to sit on the appeal when they are
not empowered by statute to do so? They have no jurisdiction to decide the matter.
Article 6 of Schedule 6 of the Rules and Regulations of the Federation Cup 2012 empowers
only the Disciplinary and the Appeals Committee to hear such matters. Nowehere is it stated
that the Organising Committee can, if they so desire, hear such matters. That’s the problem
with Nigerian football. People cannot just take powers into their hands when laws and statutes have not given them the right to. The only bodies empowered to sit on our appeal in this instance is the Disciplinary Committee but some other kangaroo Committee claim to have sat on our decision and reached a most unfair and unjust decision, without letting us know the grounds on which they reached this decision. Whereas the Disciplinary Committee which are empowered to hear the matter, and which are duly constituted of experienced lawyers, arbitrators and administrators invited us to come and state our case, a committee which lacks their experience and know how sit on the case on their own, withour recourse to hearing from the aggrieved parties, and reached a unilateral decision to replay the full 90 minutes of a match that was in the 86th minute and just 4 minutes away from penalty shoot outs.
“Contrast this with the case of Nembe United of Bayelsa. Bayelsa Utd abandoned their match when it was time to play penalties and the same NFF Organising Committee ordered them to replay their penalties? Or is it because, unlike Nembe Utd who’se chairman is the 2nd Vice President of NFF, our clients are just a team of hardworking Police men with no godfathers in Nigerian football?
“In all matters like this, justice should be done and seen to be done. Heartland FC refused to take a penalty kick when they were a goal down with 4 minutes to play then the decision was to replay the entire match, blatantly ignoring Article 14 of Guidelines to the Imo State Federation Cup 2012 which is identical to Article 3.11 (A) of the Federation Cup Rules which states that “ If any club supporter, player or official encroaches on the field of play to cause the discontinuation of the game for TEN (10) minutes or more, the club on whose behalf the disturbance was caused shall lose the match to their opponents”
“Heartland were “rewarded ” by the football authorities with a full 90 minutes whereas a similar scenario occured in the Nembe Utd v BAyelsa Utd match and a replay of the penalty kicks was ordered. WHy couldn’t a similar decision be given in Police Machines’ case?
“Further more, we paid N100, 000 to have our appeal heard and heard properly. We were denied that and are now being told to protest further, and pay more fees, if we were satisfied with a decision that was given by a body that lacked jurisdiction to even hear the matter in the first place.”
“All we demand is justice and fair play in this matter. Due process must be followed. We have spared no costs in fighting injustice to this level and yet there seems to be no justice in sight. However, we will not relent in our battle to see that we get justice in this matter,” he concluded.