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Nigeria facing deadline to avoid fresh Fifa ban

The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has been given until Friday to overturn a court ruling that nullified its recent elections or face being served a seven-month ban by Fifa, the sport’s global governing body.

The country’s Jos High Court last week ruled that a NFF vote in September that saw Amaju Pinnick elected as president of the national governing body must be declared null and void.

According to UK public-service broadcaster the BBC, Justice Ambrose Allagoa ruled that the elective congress of the NFF should not recognised as the Jos High Court had ordered 11 days earlier that the elections could not be held. This injunction was put forward by two members of the previous NFF executive led by Chris Giwa, which had been stripped of its authority after Fifa deemed the elections that took place in August to be invalid.

The NFF opted to ignore this ruling and held the elections, which led to the Pinnick-led executive being put in place. However, Justice Allagoa has ruled the original injunction remains in place and that September’s election should not be recognised.

In response to the situation, Fifa has ordered the NFF to reinstall the Pinnick-led board that was elected at last month’s congress. If the NFF fails to comply by midday on Friday, the Nigerian national team will be banned until May 2015 and expelled from qualification for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations national team tournament where it is the defending champion.  

“As stated in our previous letters, Fifa stressed that should the electoral process and the instalment of the newly elected NFF board be affected by any interference, the case would be brought to the attention of the appropriate Fifa bodies for a suspension of the NFF until the next Fifa Congress due to take place on 28 and 29 May 2015,” Fifa said in a letter to the NFF.

Ongoing uncertainty over the leadership of the country’s national governing body comes after the NFF was also briefly suspended by Fifa earlier this year due to government interference in the organisation.

Fifa acted after the NFF was served with court proceedings preventing its president, Aminu Maigari, from running the organisation. Maigari, and his executive committee, were suspended by the government, which then failed to meet a Fifa deadline to reinstate the ousted officials.

The NFF was issued with a suspension on July 10 but Fifa opted to withdraw the ban just over a week later.