Legal Entanglements of the League
Following an exhaustive examination of the legal and financial issues that had paralyzed the football league (resulting in the dissolution of the former board), the committee decided that the interest of all stakeholders, especially the teeming millions of football lovers in Nigeria, would be best served by mapping out a new direction in the structure and management of the local premier football league. There could be no other way forward especially after a Federal High Court had adjudged in January 2012 that the Nigeria Football League Ltd, the body hitherto set up to run and manage the local league was an illegal body. The circumstances are set out below.
Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/179/2010, between Dr. Sam Sam Jaja (Plaintiff) and Nigeria Football League Limited and 4 others (Defendants), is the chief source of the legal entanglements surrounding the League in Nigeria. The judgment of the Court in the suit delivered on January 20, 2012 erodes completely the identity and legal capacity of the body critical to the organization and management of professional football in Nigeria; this is Nigeria Football League Limited (NFL LTD), the 1st Defendant in the suit.
At page 51 of the judgment, Hon Justice D.U. Okorowo, of the Federal High Court, Abuja declares as follows concerning NFL Ltd,
“3. That the incorporation of the 1st Defendant as a company with the 1st and 2nd Defendant as the only subscribers to its Memorandum and Articles of Association is tantamount to incorporation by one person and thus illegal and void in so far as the 1st Defendant was not a legal person at the time of the subscription to the Memorandum and Articles of Association.”
Finally, at page 52, the Court specifically directs the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) (5th Defendant) as follows concerning NFL Ltd,
“7. That the 5th Defendant is hereby mandatorily directed to immediately commence steps for winding up of the 1st Defendant for infraction of the provisions of Companies and Allied Matters Act.”
It must be pointed out that the actual management and operation of the NFL Ltd itself, while it existed, was fraught with all sorts of illegalities. For instance, all manner of persons with definitively questionable motives had intruded in the affairs of the company and purported to be holding elections to its Board. The Federal High Court in the same judgment also declared these activities illegal as follows:
“4. That any election to the Board of the 1st Defendant can only be validly conducted in accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the 1st Defendant and the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, rather than in line with the so-called guidelines issued by the purported electoral committee (having the 3rd and 4th Defendants as chairman and vice chairman respectively) set up by the 1st Defendant. That Electoral Committee is not a body contemplated by the Companies and Allied Matters Act nor the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the 1st Defendant and as such not competent to issues election guidelines, qualify candidates, on the basis of the said guidelines or take any other action in relation to the election into the Board of Directors of the 1st Defendant”
In summary, the Federal High Court declared that:
i. the Nigeria Football League Ltd is an illegal body, having been incorporated in contravention of the law the Court has ordered its winding up.
ii. Nigeria Premier League (a creation of the illegal NFL) has no corporate personality and is unknown to Nigerian law.
iii. No aspect of the administration or management of football in Nigeria can be conducted in the names of either NFL of NPL.
iv. This judgment has not been overturned on appeal and remains valid.