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Nigeria dodge FIFA suspension

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NIGERIA-FANABUJA, September 9- African champions Nigeria on Tuesday avoided a ban from international football after FIFA said the country’s football association had complied with a directive about its leadership.

The world governing body said it welcomed the fact that ousted president Aminu Maigari and his executive committee had been able to return to work and as a result lifted the threat of sanctions.

FIFA had given Chris Giwa, who replaced Maigari and his executive committee in controversial circumstances on August 26, until 0700 GMT on Monday to step down from his post or Nigeria would face suspension from all matches.

The deadline came and went with Giwa and his officials nowhere to be seen at the headquarters of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in the capital, Abuja.

Maigari returned to work on Tuesday and showed reporters a letter dated September 8 from FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke, which said it was aware that he been able to resume his duties “without hindrance”.

“We also note that the persons claiming to have been elected vacated the premises of the NFF,” the letter read.

“Against this background, we would like to confirm that the conditions set in FIFA’s aforementioned correspondence of September 3 2014 have been complied with and that the NFF is accordingly not suspended.”

The NFF has been in turmoil since the end of the World Cup finals in July.

FIFA had briefly suspended the country from international competition because of “government interference” in the running of its affairs.

Maigari was ousted as head of the body, impeached on corruption charges then reinstated and was arrested by Nigeria’s secret police, allegedly to stop him attending the August 26 meeting when Giwa assumed control.

Giwa’s appointment led to a boycott of domestic league matches by referees, clubs and players and cast a shadow over preparations for the Super Eagles’ first Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Stephen Keshi’s side lost 3-2 to visitors Congo on Saturday.

FIFA said it was now waiting for Maigari’s executive committee to meet as soon as possible to set dates for an extra-ordinary general assembly to decide on future elections.

The NFF will be hoping to draw a line under the long-running dispute.

But Valcke warned that Nigeria still faced an immediate international ban if the meeting and elections were not held promptly and in accordance with FIFA rules and procedures.

At the same time, Giwa, who was endorsed by Nigeria’s sports minister, said he had lodged an appeal against his ouster to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

A spokeswoman for the Lausanne-based body confirmed to AFP that a case was pending.

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