IN THE MATTER OF APPLICATION FOR EMPLOYMENT INTO THE LES ELEPHANT OF IVORY COAST BY MR. STEPHEN KESHI ( HEAD COACH OF THE SUPER EAGLES OF NIGERIA) AND OTHER BREACHES OF HIS CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT.
The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, representing the Executive Committee and Management referred to the Disciplinary Committee for investigation and adjudication an allegation reported widely and in particular in the official website of the Ivorien Football Federation that Mr Stephen Keshi applied and sought employment in the vacant position of Head Coach of the Les Elephant of Ivory Coast and was consequently shortlisted among 58 others that did apply for the job while he is still an employee of the Nigeria Football Federation having a two year unexpired contract as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.
The Nigeria Football Federation also stated that the said publication embarrassed it as well as the Nigerian populace.
They claimed that they were not owing the coach any arrears of salaries or emolument and that the coach is being paid as at when due.
They further buttressed that they fear that they could no longer trust the coach as his action was unwarranted.
They further gave instances that in 2013 the said coach minutes after the Super Eagles won the Nations Cup in South Africa, resigned his appointment even when his contract was yet to expire.
That it took the intervention of the former President of Nigeria and the former President of Senate for him to reverse his decision.
They also alleged that standards in the team was compromised and that the coach has not used the best of his skills and commitment to develop the game. They stated an instance when he without the knowledge of the Technical Committee nor the Technical Study Group brought in a player Gabriel Okechukwu under circumstances not clear to the federation into the Super Eagles team and made him to put on the iconic No. 10 jersey only for him to be kept as reserve in a match that we needed to use the best of our players.
They stated that on further enquiries they discovered that the player had not played football for any notable team in country or beyond. In fact they concluded that the player was favored and or smuggled into the team when in fact he had not played for any of the football leagues in the country or even abroad despite the Avalanche of better talented players.
Mr. Stephen Keshi was invited to appear before this panel in respect of the allegation on the 23rd of June, 2015.
In his testimony before the panel, Mr Stephen Keshi denied the allegation and further stated that neither he, his agent or anybody acting on his behalf did not apply for the vacant position in the Les Elephant of Ivory Coast.
He did not back his statement with any evidence.
ISSUES TO BE DETERMINED :
1. If Stephen Keshi, his agent or anybody acting under his authority applied for the vacant coaching position in Les Elephant of Ivory Coast when he has a two year running contract with the nff.
2. Whether Stephen Keshi was right by applying for the vacant coaching position or if it breaches his contract with the nff or international best practices.
3. If Stephen Keshi has acted competently by inviting a non league player Gabriel Okechukwu to play for the Super Eagles.
ISSUE NO. 1
It is an uncontroverted fact that Mr Stephen Keshi,s name was listed amongst 58 others that applied for the vacant coaching job in the Les Elephant published in the official website of FIF and reported widely by local and international media such as Bbcsports, Supersport, Goal.com etc.
At no point did FIF deny the report or stated that Mr. Stephen Keshi,s name was listed in error.
During further investigation it was discovered that an application together with the CV of Mr. Stephen Keshi were sent by his agent Hermann Brice De Souza to the panel set up by FIF to screen and recommend for appointment coach for the Les Elephant on 11th June, 2015.
It was also discovered that the said Hermann Brice De Souza did also write to withdraw the said application on 20th June, 2015 without any reason adduced for the withdrawal. It is worthy to note that this withdrawal was made after the story had broken in Nigeria and has been queried verbally by the President of the Nff.
ISSUE NO. 2.
Mr Stephen Keshi has a two year contract with the Nff which commenced on 1st March, 2015 and ending on 28th February, 2017.
During the period already spent in the contract, nff has fulfilled all its obligations in the contract and has not fallen short in any aspect of the contract.
Consequent upon the above it will be said that Mr Keshi was wrong in applying for another job.
ISSUE NO. 3.
From the facts given and evidence of the fact that Gabriel Okechukwu was invited from a non league football club that only existed by name whereas there are a number of talented players who play in the leagues thereby compromising his position and failing in his duties in flagrant breach of Clause 5.8 of his contract of employment. He also did not consult and there is no evidence suggesting that he consulted with the Federations Technical Study Group in the selection of players invited to the Super Eagles in breach of Clause 5.4
From the conduct of Keshi it is easy to conclude that he secretly was seeking employment from another federation. This conduct is unethical and unprofessional .
He has by his conduct demonstrated that he is not capable of being trusted and has breached Clause 4.3 of his contract with the Nff.
His conduct as demonstrated negates all international best practices and norms and has not displayed the highest sense of dedication and professionalism at all times during the tenure of his contract thereby breaching Clause 5.1.
By applying for the vacant position in the Les Elephant, he has expressed his willingness to engage in other services which is in conflict with his present job and has not devoted all his time and attention to the service of nff during the term of his contract with the nff thereby contravening Clause 10.2.4 of the contract.
It is said that a contract is an oral or written, express or implied agreement specifying terms and conditions under which a person consents to perform certain duties as directed and controlled by an employer in return for an agreed upon wage or salary. Whether stated or not in a contract, both the employee and the employer owe the duty of mutual confidence and trust.
Similarly in the case at hand Keshi has breached the mutual confidence and trust imposed on him by the contract with nff by applying for the vacant position in the Les Elephant of Ivory Coast without seeking the consent of his employers.
It is important to note that Stephen Keshi through his agent applied to coach the Les Elephant of Ivory Coast just two days before the Super Eagles crucial Afcon qualifying match against Chad.
It can be said that Mr Stephen Keshi if employed by FIF would have abandoned the Super Eagles in the middle of the tournament or he would have approached the game lethargic.
That his action for applying for job in FIF while in the employment of the Nff has clearly put him in the position of not being competent and able to achieve the set goals of his contract.
He has also manifested by this act that he is not satisfied with his job and contract thus looking for greener pastures.
ELUCIDATION OF FINDINGS.
It may appear that the contract of employment entered between the Nff and Stephen Keshi is silent on whether during the subsistence of the contract Stephen Keshi could apply for another coaching job i.e with FIF?
It is the view of this Committee ( August Body ) that the contract which commenced on 1/03/15 to end on 28/02/17 is for a 2 term certain. It is a contract for a continuos period of 2 years wherein he is expected to qualify Nigeria in the 2016 and 2017 CHAN. See Clause 4.
The above suggest that at no point that this contract envisage or contemplate Stephen Keshi to apply for another job within the subsistence of the two years. Invariably, there is an implied condition that Stephen Keshi cannot seek another job or greener pasture while the contract subsists without disclosing same to the Nff for its consent. CLAUSE 9, contemplate good faith from both parties in to achieve the overall objective of the contract which is for Stephen Keshi to get Nigeria to take part, qualify and play Semi final of Chan 2016 and Afcon 2017. Good faith requires being honest and open to the Nff.
Stephen Keshi,s conduct did not suggest good faith to give life to the objective of the contract which he executed thus make the contract voidable.
CLAUSE 10.2.4 provided that Stephen Keshi shall not during the pendency of this contract engage in any business of sort. This is to enable him dedicate his time to the objective of this contract as well as avoid conflict of interest.
" That he shall not engage in any other service or business
whatsoever during the term of his employment and shall
unless prevented by ill-health devote all his time and attention
to the service of the Nff as may be necessary for the proper
exercise of his duties."
This is bad enough that he took steps nod applied for coaching job with FIF after he had entered into a contract of employment with the Nff. It is even worst when his name was published by FIF amongst 58 other candidates. It must be noted that Stephen Keshi did not deny his agent. In law a disclosed Principal is liable for acts and conduct of his agent. Even if it were a personal engagement the contract requires consent of the Nff but this is not the case.
"...All such personal endorsements shall however be subject to
the concurrence, approval and consent of the Nff first had and
Stephen Keshi,s act and conduct can be best described as one of insubordination against the Nff and Nigeria as a whole.
From the way he is going it is evident that he will abandon the Nff when it need him the most and go for greener pastures thus will not discharge his duties.
5.6.1 Ensure that the Super Eagles qualify and play in at least
the semi finals of the African Nations Championship
( CHAN ) 2016.
5.6.2. Ensure that the Super Eagles qualify and play in at least
the semi finals of the African Cuo of Nations ( AFCON )
By the above clause, he has irrevocably bind himself and to dedicate all his time and energy to the Nff activities that will lead to achieving the above conditions of his employment rather than using his time and energy searching for greener pastures against the tenure of his contract. The implication of clause 5.6.1 & 2 is that he is bound to the Nff until he discharge the above responsibility and not to go looking for a coaching job elsewhere.
Gentlemen keep to their agreement and will put national interest first. The said application has indeed put Nigeria in odium and public ridicule thus: Nigeria cannot pay him hence he is looking for another job; Nigeria is a responsible football nation and this is setting up a bad precedent if it is allowed to continue.
It was established by the Technical and Development Committee as well as the Technical Study Group that Gabriel OKECHUKWU was brought into the Super Eagles by Stephen Keshi without consultation with them. For purposes of elucidation Clause 5.4 of the contract states " The Head Coach shall select the best crop of players of the Super Eagles who are ready to excel in friendly and competitive games in consultation with the Technical Committee and the Technical Study Group of the Nff " .
It is true that the Head Coach in this case Stephen Keshi has a duty to discover young talents but such young talents must have played or are playing in either a local league or leagues abroad. In the case of OKECHUKWU he hasn't any such record yet he was given the coveted No. 10 shirt. This is indeed a violation of the contract and a deliberate ploy to grand stand the Nff which is unacceptable.
5.8 The Head Coach shall on assumption of duties embark on discovery of new talented players both from the local league and other leagues abroad.
If Okechukwu did not and does not play for any known league locally or internationally, then the only probable and safe conclusion why Keshi brought him to the Super Eagles is for personal interest or on the basis of ethnicity or religious lines which is a grave violation of the code of conduct for coaches in schedule 1 of the contract.
( b ) Coaches must not take decision based on personal interest e.g. collecting gratifications, insisting on becoming players,s managers or player,s agents.
( c ) Coaches must not use ethnic or religious criteria for evaluating.
1. Stephen Keshi by his conduct and or that of his agent is clear that he is not capable of achieving the objectives set out under Clause 5.6 of the contract of employment.
2. He has also breached the provision of Clause 10.2.4 of the contract of employment by engaging in any other business of soliciting or looking for greener pasture while he has not deliver on 5.6.
3. He is in breach of clauses 5.4 and 5.8 of the contract of employment which violates schedule one of the contract i.e ( b ) and ( c ) as above.
We recommend that the Head Coach Mr. Stephen Keshi is in breach of the contract of employment hence same has become voidable. His contract should be terminated summarily in reliance with Clause 4.3 of the contract.