No amount of neutering will stop us, vows Sports Disputes Tribunal boss

No amount of neutering will stop us, vows Sports Disputes Tribunal boss

Sports Disputes Tribunal  Chairman John Ohaga says  no amount of ‘neutering’ will stop them from delivering justice.

The national sports arbitration tribunal has been dragged into a court battle by a section of football stakeholders in a petition filed by two Kericho  Zoo FC players and a football administrator.

In the petition where Ohaga has been sued alongside the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, Attorney General Paul Kihara, Chief Justice David Maraga, the petitioners want the High Court to quash all the previous SDT rulings and bar it from conducting further proceedings using the same rules.

“The SDT has no rules of engagement and my clients have a right to pursue justice,” said the trio’s advocate Ken Ochieng, who ironically, is also the owner of Zoo FC. 

Ochieng further argued that Ohaga is enacting and applying rules against the provisions of the Sports Act 2013. 

It is worth noting that it is SDT that arbitrated in the case of FKF versus KPL that gave birth to the 18-team  league which was the federation’s idea. 

This matter saw SuperSport terminate their contract with the Kenyan Premier League which is yet to find a title sponsor since the South African pay television walked out of the Kenyan game.  

But Ohaga insists that despite the attempt by ‘football stakeholders’ to drag the tribunal into ‘political battles’, they will remain “steadfast in exercising its jurisdiction to hear and determine matters brought before it.”

“The Tribunal recognizes the concerted efforts being made to divert its focus and to attempt to neuter it and will remain steadfast in exercising its jurisdiction to hear and determine matters brought before it whilst treating each party fairly, acting with integrity and in the best interests of the sporting community,” Ohaga said in a statement seen by SPORTS AFRICA.

The ripple effect of the High Court case saw the SDT fail to deliver a ruling in a matter touching on FKF.

The long overdue decision on  whether FKF President Nick Mwendwa was in contempt of the court that was expected to be delivered by the SDT on Thursday, was  pushed back to next week, as the tribunal now focuses on the new court case in Kericho.

The FKF case was referred back to the tribunal to interpret article 37 (a) of the FKF Constitution 2017,  after Mwendwa and his entire NEC were kicked out of office following the expiry of their term in office, on February 10.

Mwendwa has, however, continued to discharge his duties until a new president is elected, a move that could be interpreted as contempt.

“The Tribunal was shortly thereafter served with  Petition No. 1 of 2020 filed in the High Court at Kericho which effectively constituted a collateral challenge to the Tribunal’s decision of 17th March 2020. As the Tribunal was named as a Respondent in the Petition, the Tribunal had to turn its attention to responding to this Petition,” Ohaga said..

“SDT was again, on Wednesday, served with an application seeking to quash these present proceedings in Nairobi Judicial Review Application No. 100 of 2020.

“The Tribunal indicated that it would deliver its decision on the various pending applications today, 21st May. However, as you will all be aware, the parties continued to debate various issues arising from these applications well into the following week.”

Despite the setback, Ohaga has now set next Thursday as the new date when the SDT is expected to deliver the verdict.

“The reality is that responding to these collateral challenges takes time and energy and as a result, the decision promised for today is not ready and will now be delivered on Thursday 28th May at 2.30pm.”