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Missing $130,000: Dalung Talks Tough, Says Nigeria not Owing IAAF, Alleges Blackmail

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The Nigerian Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has accused the International Association of Athletics Federations, IAAF, of ‘blackmail’ after the body gave Nigeria an ultimatum to refund the money it was paid in error.

The federation said Nigeria was overpaid by $130,000 in 2017 but the country’s officials have rebuffed all efforts to get the money back.

Nigeria must now pay back within days or be sanctioned, the IAAF said.

In a letter sent to the president of the AFN, Ibrahim Gusau, and signed by the IAAF Senior Manager, Governance, Jee Isram, the body said the AFN was contacted immediately the anomaly was noticed on March 18, 2017, to refund the sum of $130,000 that was wrongly credited.

“Failure to receive the funds back within that period, we will have no alternative than to apply appropriate sanctions against your Federation,” it said.

Analysts have expressed outrage at the delayed refund, and have accused the sports ministry of denting the nation’s image.

Instead of repaying the money and ending the embarrassment, officials have been trading blames and refusing to speak on the matter.

A former member of the board of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria told PREMIUM TIMES the sports minister, Mr Dalung, authorised the disbursement of the money.

Speaking at the 2019 Okpekpe Road Race held on Saturday in Edo State, Mr Dalung questioned the claims made by IAAF, claiming that Nigeria did nothing wrong.

“I think Nigeria has been unfairly treated because the issue has been painted and promoted as if there was any wrongdoing on the part of Nigeria,” Mr Dalung said.

“Certainly not, grants were released to Nigeria on the 17th of May 2017. IAAF on the 19th confirmed the transaction; those from IAAF after two months turned round and cried foul that it was a mistake.

“I smell rat in the whole thing and I believe that the whole thing has been orchestrated in an attempt to blackmail Nigeria,” the minister told journalists at Saturday’s race.

He continued: “Even when we went into it, we were not even convinced what the mistake was, is it a mistake of Nigeria or that of IAAF?

“When did they realise they made a mistake when the transaction was confirmed? I made a mistake in transferring money… I realised within 10 minutes and I called my bank and I retrieved the money. Why did it take IAAF two months to realise a mistake? An international organization, highly reputable?

“I think it is not about money erroneously credited to Nigeria, but there is a calculated attempt just to diminish and destroy Nigerian athletics, otherwise, I don’t see why they call it a mistake. We didn’t apply for a grant.”

When asked what the country will do at least to save it from possible ban as threatened by the IAAF, Mr. Dalung stated:

“Ban us for what? What has Nigeria done? What is the crime? Did we steal money from them? Did we ask them to transfer money to us?

“They transferred money to us, they confirmed the transaction to us, then after two months, they woke up from slumber.

“Is IAAF telling us they are as much disorganised as that? Where Nigeria is wrong, Nigeria will be own up but you cannot wake up and just realise that they have something to hold on to. We are not even convinced that there is any mistake, the money was sent for the golden relays and it was done. Are they saying there was no golden relays.

“I think those promoting this are trying to cry blue murder; I think they are just enemies of this country and we should ask questions,” the minister concluded.

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Fani-kayode Did Not Know When I Defected, Umahi Knocks Ex-Minister over Comments

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Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, has countered Former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode’s claim that he contributed to his (Umahi’s) defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“I think he needs to withdraw that statement, he’s my good friend but, it was an insult on my person and the other governors,” Umahi said on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday.

“The man did not know when I moved, but incidentally he visited me and we discussed, and he said he was coming to join me with the other governors to declare.

“How will somebody in the PDP be instrumental to my moving?” Umahi asked.

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Fani-Kayode: Spirit of God Inspired Me to Join APC, Instrumental to Defection of Three Govs, Working on Three Others

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Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Thursday hinted at the possibility of the governors of Bauchi, Enugu and Oyo States dumping the Peoples Democratic Party and joining him in the All Progressives Congress.

Fani-Kayode gave the hint while speaking to newsmen after he was presented to the President Muhammadu Buhari by the Chairman, Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni, at the Presidential Villa.

In response to another question as to whether he had friends from the PDP following him into the APC, he said, “There are many people. If you ask my friend and brother, Governor Matawalle here, there are many people within the PDP, who do want to come over to the APC. I can tell you that. I was there and very instrumental when Governor Umahi joined the APC.

“I was there and very instrumental when Governor Ayade did the same thing. I was there and very instrumental when my friend and brother governor of Zamfara, Governor Matawale did the same thing.

“Now, if you don’t mind me mentioning names, somebody like the governor of Enugu State, the governor of Oyo State, and of course, my good friend, the governor of Bauchi State, great friends of mine, and I sincerely hope that they too may end up coming in this direction.

“But whether they do or not, the most important thing is that we work together as a people, as a country, and move our country together and fight and kill the terrorists and put to shame the foreign elements and I emphasize that word, foreign elements, that want us to end up fighting one another in this country and turning our country into a massive refugee camp.

“I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but I’ve made a choice, I believe I’ve been led by the Spirit of God and I will fight for what I believe is right within this party as I would anyway. I will never give up on my core values and principles.”

Fani-Kayode also claimed that his decision was inspired by God and the positive changes he has noticed in the ruling party.

Asked why he chose the APC, he said, “Why not? The point is that I felt that this was the appropriate time to do the right thing, to put Nigeria first, and to appreciate the efforts that have been made. Particularly in the last couple of years in terms of security, fighting insurgency, fighting terrorism, and most importantly, is the appreciation of the fact that we must remain one as a nation, build bridges, work together to move the country forward.

“The efforts of the governor of Yobe State, the governor of Zamfara State, and several others, including the governor of Kogi and several others in their respective states and in moving this country forward and helping Mr. President move this country forward, cannot be ignored.

“We need to appreciate the fact that when we see that there are good things that are happening, we appreciate those good things. It’s not always negative and when the time is right, we change direction to join forces and join hands to move the country forward.

In his remarks, the Caretaker Committee, Chairman of the APC, Mai Mala Buni said, “We just received him and in appreciation and understanding of Mr. President’s vision, and magnanimity.”

Asked how the President received the new party member, he said, “He received him very well and, you know, Mr. President is a magnanimous leader, who shares his vision with anybody who is looking towards greater Nigeria. So, he’s happy and he received him very well, he commended his courage.”

When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan said, “We wish Chief Fani-Kayode luck in his new political adventure.”

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We’ll Reveal Sponsors of Terrorism at the Right Time – EFCC Chair, Bawa

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, on Thursday, said Nigerians will know the identities of terrorism financiers in the country at the right time.

He spoke on as a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ current affairs programme monitored by The PUNCH.

Bawa, who collapsed during an official function at the Aso Rock Villa earlier on Thursday, also said he had seen his doctor and “everything about me is okay, except for the fact that I’m a bit dehydrated and I need to take a lot of water”.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on February 16, 2021, named 41-year-old Bawa as the fourth chairman of EFCC following the corruption allegations levelled against embattled ex-acting EFCC chair, Ibrahim Magu, and his subsequent suspension.

The EFCC was established in the early 2000s during the administration of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to combat economic and financial crimes like advance fee fraud (419), money laundering, terrorism financing and miscellaneous offences.

On Monday, the United Arab Emirates named and prosecuted six Nigerians and 32 others for allegedly financing terrorism.

Nigerians on the UAE’s terrorism list include Abdurrahaman Ado Musa, Salihu Yusuf Adamu, Bashir Ali Yusuf, Muhammed Ibrahim Isa, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan and Surajo Abubakar Muhammad.

The Nigerians were said to have transferred up to $800,000 in favour of Boko Haram between 2015 and 2016.

The six persons were said to have been tried and sentenced to at least 10 years in jail in the UAE.

Also in March 2021, presidential aide, Garba Shehu, had said the Nigerian Government arrested 400 Bureau De Change operators for allegedly funding Boko Haram insurgency in the country.

He had said the Nigerians were transferring money to the sect from the United Arab Emirates.

Asked specifically on the television programme on Thursday to reveal the people financing terror and unleashing mayhem on Nigerians in the last 12 years, the EFCC chairman replied the interviewer, “If you are my adviser, will you advise me to come on national television to tell the whole world regarding matters of sensitive national security issue? Certainly, not. But what I want to assure is the fact that we are working tirelessly with other sister agencies to ensure that this country is free of terrorism.”

When further asked whether it was appropriate for the government to conceal the identities of terror financiers whose activities have led to the killing of thousands of innocent lives, Bawa said, “Of course, transparency is one of the bedrock(s) of this administration, of course, I am not a spokesman for this administration, but I believe that at the right time Nigerians will get to know those that are financing terrorism in this country and beyond as well.

“These are issues that are beyond the borders of this country and of course we are working tirelessly with our partners overseas as well as other sister agencies at home. We are working, it is not something we should come out to say that these are the modus operandi that we are adopting.”

Terrorism financing has become a concerning issue in Nigeria in the last few years as some unnamed politicians have been fingered of complicity with the marauders.

This newspaper had earlier reported that a former Navy Commodore, Kunle Olawunmi, said that Boko Haram terrorists mentioned names of current governors, senators and Aso Rock officials as sponsors during interrogation but the President has demonstrated an unwillingness to go after the high-profile politicians for reasons best known to him.

Last September, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Obadiah Mailafia, also claimed that a serving northern governor was a Boko Haram leader and moneybag.

For over a decade, the Boko Haram terror group had killed thousands of Nigerians in the North-East, especially in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States. The Nigerian Army and the Presidency had at several times claimed the group had been ‘technically defeated’ and ‘weakened’ but the bloodthirsty terrorist faction continues to strike with daring effrontery and crude savagery.

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