The League Management Company (LMC), the body in charge of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) have appealed and also filed for a stay of execution the ruling of a High Court of Jos, Plateau State which committed the Chairman, Shehu Dikko and the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Salihu Abubakar to prison for alleged contempt on Friday.
Justice Kunda had in his ruling on Friday ordered that the two officials be committed to prison for 14 days for disobeying his earlier order that the league should be suspended if Giwa is not reinstated.
Reacting to the ruling, the LMC, in a statement expressed shock that the Judge who had earlier admitted that he lacked the jurisdiction to continue hearing the matter following LMC’s appeal of his two earlier rulings could issue such an order.
While stating that the Court of Appeal has set Monday, September 19 for hearing of the motion for stay of execution of the order, LMC insisted that the company and "its officials are law-abiding and will continue to seek the protection of the laws of our land in carrying on their lawful business. LMC will not be browbeaten or intimidated into abandoning this resolve or to act outside the laws of the land”.
The statement traced the genesis of the case at the Jos High Court and made reference to a public statement it issued recently. “In the notice we informed the public that the LMC had appealed against the order of Justice I.I. Kunda made on ex parte application of the plaintiff directing that Giwa FC be reinstated to the league. Along with the appeal LMC also filed a motion before the Court of Appeal, Jos for a stay of proceedings pending determination of the appeal. Based on that, LMC indicated that the league would continue”.
The statement continued, “The LMC authoritatively confirms that the Court of Appeal has fixed the motion filed by LMC for stay of proceedings in the Jos High Court for Monday 19th September, 2016. In his ruling on another motion filed by Mustapha Abubakar before the High Court notwithstanding LMC’s motion for stay of execution fixed for hearing on Monday 19th September, 2016, Justice Kunda agreed that having regard to the motion pending before the Court of Appeal, he had no jurisdiction to hear Mustapha’s motion and he struck it out. But surprisingly, notwithstanding his concession that he had no jurisdiction to entertain Mustapha’s motion, the judge still went ahead to make an order to stop the league even when there was no motion before him for same. LMC appealed against that order and filed a motion before the Court of Appeal for stay of the order”.
The LMC also faulted the ruling citing the failure to personally serve the Forms 48 and 49 on the Chairman and the COO. It pointed out that having failed to personally serve the two officials, Mustapha Abubakar served the hearing notice to the counsels to the LMC.
“Of course, counsel to LMC went to Jos High court to raise objection based on lack of personal service of forms 48 and 49 on the Chairman and the Chief Operating Officer of LMC. However shockingly, the judge said that service on the company was sufficient and he rejected the objection. He then proceeded to make an order committing the Chairman and the Chief Operating Officer to Prison, notwithstanding that there was no motion before him for that purpose”.
The LMC said it had learned of the possibility of this ruling in the media over a week ago but did not believe that any court would make an order to commit anybody to prison without an application for the purpose.
The League body disclosed that it has briefed its attorney, Chief Akin Olujinmi, CON, SAN and noted that “the way the judge had handled the matter raises issues of judicial integrity. The LMC along with its Chairman and Chief Operating Officer will, apart from the appeal against the said orders, exercise their right to address a petition against the judge to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for appropriate intervention”.
Source: LMC Press Release