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.
Super Eagles to Play Tunisia As AFCON 2021 Enters Knockout Stage
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) round of 16 fixtures.
The mouth-watering clash was announced on Thursday night following Tunisia’s 1-0 loss to the Gambia — which consigned the North Africans to qualify as one of four best third-placed teams in the group stage.
Nigeria had finished top of Group D after winning all three of its group stage matches.
The tie against Tunisia is expected to be a repeat of the bronze medal match at AFCON 2019 in Egypt where Odion Ighalo’s goal confirmed the Super Eagles’ third place.
It is also a reunion for Austin Eguavoen, Super Eagles interim coach, who faced Tunisia at the quarter-finals stage at AFCON 2006 in Egypt. Nigeria won 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to advance into the semi-finals.
In other pairings, Cameroon, AFCON hosts, will face Comoros, tournament debutants, while Burkina Faso will play the Gambia, another debutant nation.
Two giants will also clash as Ivory Coast will slug it out with the Pharaohs of Egypt in a repeat of the 2006 AFCON final. Egypt, the then hosts, had won the clash 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw to deny the star-studded Ivorian team.
The round of 16 ties will begin on Sunday, January 23, with Nigeria’s tie against Tunisia one of two matches for the day.
AFCON ROUND OF 16 FIXTURES
- Nigeria vs Tunisia
- Ivory Coast vs Egypt
- Burkina Faso vs Gabon
- Morocco vs Malawi
- Senegal vs Cape Verde
- Cameron vs Comoros
- Mali vs Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea vs Gambia
IPOB Faults Army, Says We Have No Camps in Ihiala, Criminals Not IPOB Members
The Indigenous People of Biafra has said that it does not have any camp in Lilu, Ihiala in Anambra State. The group claimed that they were not militants or criminals, hence do not operate in hidden camps.
The army, had, on Tuesday, through its spokesman, said it dislodged the camps of IPOB and Eastern Security Networks in Lilu, Ihiala.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, the IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said that the security agencies only unleashed cruelty on the people living in those communities claiming they were members of IPOB and ESN.
Powerful stated that if criminals take refuge in any community in Biafra land, that doesn’t make them IPOB members or ESN operatives.
He said, “We have also not said there are no more criminal gangs in Biafra land just like every other country even in the advanced western nations. But we won’t accept the tagging of every criminal element found in Biafra as an IPOB member or ESN operative.
“Recall that some of these criminals were already mentioned by IPOB leadership sometime during a broadcast. These hoodlums were a creation of wicked politicians in their desperation to discredit IPOB and ESN.”
The group claimed that the Nigeria Army, Police and DSS keeps dishing out falsehoods against IPOB and ESN by tagging those criminals they arrested as IPOB and ESN members.
It said the so-called camp where these said criminals were arrested does not belong to ESN, “They should stop lying against us,” Powerful said.
The statement further reads, “In Orsumoghu, Nnewi South, Lilu Orsumenyi of Ihiala LGA of Anambra State these criminals whose names are Emmanuel aka (Obereagu), Innocent Obiekee from Isingwu Orsumoghu, Izuchukwu from Amaduru Orsumoghu, Ofordie aka Baby, are the ones impersonating ESN/IPOB members using ESN name to commit crimes against the people of these communities they are not ESN members, the communities involved should use their vigilante group and stop them, ESN will help them too.
“In Orlu, Imo State, these criminals whose names are Agu, 50, Vice, Ojoo are the ones impersonating ESN/IPOB members to demonise IPOB and ESN members, they are sponsored by Hope Uzodinma and his co-travellers and traitors to demonise IPOB and ESN members in Imo State.
“They and their gang are collecting illegal levies at the Eke-Ututu market in the name of ESN when they are neither ESN operatives nor IPOB family members.
“The people are collecting proceeds from innocent communities. Collecting N5,000 from Orlu people in the name of ESN. These names mentioned or listed in this press statement have been declared Persona Non-Grata in Biafraland and they remain so. People must stop giving them money they are not ESN operatives and not IPOB volunteers.
“They have been kidnapping people, snatching cars and raping our women in our territory. IPOB volunteers and ESN operatives have also been making efforts to apprehend these agents of sorrow. We cannot watch these beasts created and sponsored by Hope Uzodinma, his masters in Miyeti Allah and their co-travellers destroy Biafra land.
The statement continues, “Again, ESN does not write letters to people or make calls to people requesting funds, funds for what we ask? IPOB and ESN have no dealings with such evil activities of these criminals who are now on the ESN watchlist. Be warned and stop giving them money in the name of ESN or IPOB volunteers.”
Eguavoen Will Only Earn Bonus, Won’t Earn Salary, Says NFF
Interim coach Austin Eguavoen will be entitled to only win bonuses as the Super Eagles gaffer at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Eguavoen was appointed on a short-term deal after the Nigeria Football Federation sacked Gernot Rohr in December.
Rohr was Nigeria’s longest-serving manager after taking charge in August 2016, but had his contract terminated after leading the Eagles to the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-offs and sealing a spot at the Nations Cup in Cameroon.
The Franco-German also led Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup and guided the team to third-place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
“Eguavoen is on the payroll of the NFF and he won’t be entitled to salary for the role he is playing as an interim coach of the team,” President of the NFF Amaju Pinnick stated recently on Arise TV.
“He will be entitled to the winning bonuses as the team progress at the tournament.”
Eguavoen has already won his opening two group games at the tournament which has sealed their place in the round of 16 in the competition