On Thursday, a Court of Appeal in Abuja vacated an interim injunction that had prevented the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) from holding its elective congress in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, on September 30.
The interim order came as a result of a lawsuit that the Nigerian Professional Footballers Association filed with the Federal High Court of Abuja (NPFA).
In addition to other requests, the plaintiff had asked the court to order the NFF and Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to halt further work on the elective congress of Nigeria’s football body while the court considered its case.
The NFF elections scheduled for Benin City were postponed on September 15 as a result of PFAN’s legal action to request a change to the 2010 NFF Statutes. This action was initiated by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The Youth and Sports Development Minister and the NFF President, or anyone acting on their direction, were ordered to maintain the status quo by Justice Inyang Ekwo in her ex-parte decision.
The players union was pushing for equal voting rights and representation on the NFF board for each of the five statutory bodies that make up the NFF.
Nigeria Football Federation filed an application with the Appellate Court to have the order reversed while still unhappy with the decision.
On Thursday, the Court granted NFF’s request and stated that the lower court’s legal error caused a miscarriage of justice when it stated that the parties must maintain the status quo ante until the court’s final decision.
According to the appellate court, the lower court lacked the authority to grant an order that was not prayed for.
It also stated that the ex-parte order was made by the learned trial lower court in violation of the law and further held that the case would be remanded for hearing on October 31, 2022. According to the Federal High Court Rules and established legal precedent, ex-parte orders may not last longer than 14 days.
“By granting the injunctive order and adjourning the matter to 31/10/2022, the trial Court tacitly made the ex-parte order to last 46 days. There was no prayer before the lower court asking for maintaining the status quo ante. It is a trite principle of law that a court can only grant what was prayed for.
“A declaration that the interim order was made without jurisdiction, an order setting aside,” the Appeal Court ruled.