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STAY OFF GFA! COURT ORDERS FA MEMBERS, DIRECTORS

Sports

An Accra high court yesterday granted an application by the Attorney General, Ms Gloria Akuffo, pursuant to Order 25 (1) of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules (CI47), for an interim injunction to restrain members, directors and officers of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) from exercising such powers as ordinarily conferred on them by law.

An Accra high court yesterday granted an application by the Attorney General, Ms Gloria Akuffo, pursuant to Order 25 (1) of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules (CI47), for an interim injunction to restrain members, directors and officers of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) from exercising such powers as ordinarily conferred on them by law.

 

The order equally restrains the GFA and its members and officers from organising football matches and making any appointments of other officers.

In an extensive delivery, the AG cited the Dzamefe Commission report, as well as “Number 12”, the investigative documentary by Anas Aremeyaw Anas on corruption in the GFA’s activities. Ms Akuffo argued that it had become necessary to liquidate the GFA officially because, as presently constituted, the GFA cannot continue to exist.

Locus

The AG said that though the GFA is a company limited by guarantee, its very existence and functions give it an image intertwined with that of the state and the nation as a whole. Therefore, as a guardian of the laws of Ghana, the AG has a duty to act in the interests of protecting the overriding public interest whenever the AG’s department believes the FA’s activities have occasioned gross damage to the image of the nation, she said.

Ms Akuffo argued further that the GFA relies heavily on financial and logistical support from the government, with the national football teams largely financed by the state. She observed that the GFA organises matches largely in the name of Ghana. “All its acts are identified with the Republic of Ghana,” she said.

The AG contended that because the FA’s activities have a direct bearing on the reputation of the state, the head of the government’s legal machinery has a paramount duty to act swiftly to stop the GFA from being run for illegal purposes. This, she said, is in line with the Attorney General’s duty to protect the laws of Ghana as well as the interests of the public.

Illegal actions

Ms Akuffo said that GFA illegal activities had come to the fore during the 2014 Fifa World Cup tournament in Brazil. Nefarious activities on that occasion led to the setting up of the Dzamefe Commission by former President John Mahama. The commission was tasked with looking into misconduct by GFA officials in the course of Ghana’s participation in that World Cup.

She said the Commission’s report had captured what could be described as “deplorable conduct” by GFA officials, notably poor financial management and unlawful payments to companies which did no work.

Ms Akuffo noted that in spite of the staggering revelations then, members and officials of the GFA had remained in their jobs and pursued their illegal actions, the depth of which is captured in the Anas exposé.

Injunction

The AG’s action against the GFA follows public outrage in response to an exposé by Anas Aremeyaw Anas which uncovered pervasive corruption among high-ranking FA officials, football referees and match commissioners. Those captured in his film are seen allegedly taking bribes to influence player selections and transfers, as well as engaging in match-fixing and visa racketeering, among other disgraceful acts.

The AG argued that the evidence captured on tape in the Anas documentary as well as the report by the Dzamefe Commission show clearly that the GFA’s objectives have been perverted through officials’ fraud, corruption, deceit and illegality.

She argued further that FA officials confirmed in the Anas documentary that acts of illegality, including bribery and match-fixing, are usual in the GFA today. She maintained that the Association has ruined its reputation, because the rot extends from top to bottom.

On the specific question of the need for an injunction to restrain GFA officials from exercising any powers conferred on them by law, the AG noted that in spite of the revelations by investigative journalists and the government’s attempt to save the situation, FA officials had recently attempted to travel to Russia to represent Ghana in the World Cup. The move was stopped by government.

The Minister also said that the police had declared the FA premises a crime scene. She thus argued that as things stand, until the premises are opened up, the FA cannot function properly. And yet, she marvelled, its officials are bent on carrying out further activities in the name of the FA.

Sacked vice

Ms Akuffo said the FA had become the de facto property of one man, Kwesi Nyantakyi, the immediate past president of the GFA. In his quest to perpetrate illegal acts, she said, he has rewritten the rules to allow him to sack the Association’s vice-president, for instance, as and when he wished.

The GFA president sacked George Afriyie, his deputy, in April. Following Nyantakyi’s resignation, the FA therefore stands without leadership, the AG said.

These facts and more showed clearly that greater harm would be caused to the government, whose reputation is at stake, if the injunction was refused, the AG argued. She however added that, under the current circumstances, no harm would befall the FA if the injunction was granted.

After hearing the arguments the High Court, presided over by Justice Samuel Kwame Asiedu, granted the application pursuant to Order 25 of CI47.