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.
Nnamdi Kanu Still Our Leader, Not Replaced – IPOB
The Indigenous People of Biafra has said that it has not replaced the currently detained Nnamdi Kanu as its leader.
The Biafra group asked its followers to ignore the reports making the rounds that IPOB has replaced Kanu, describing it as “fabricated media propaganda”.
These were made known in a statement by the group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, on Tuesday.
According to Powerful, Mazi Chika Edoziem is the head of the IPOB Directorate of State and not IPOB Acting Leader.
The statement read in part, “We, the global movement and family of IPOB under the command and leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, condemn the useless and fabricated media propaganda and blackmail from some media houses that IPOB has another or acting leader replacing our indefatigable liberator and prophet Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“Those peddling this kind of lies are those criminals who zoo gutter media are publishing this to confuse the weak-minded people.
“We want everybody to bear in mind that Mazi Chika Edoziem is the head of IPOB Directorate of State and not IPOB Acting Leader.
“It is unfortunate that some mischievous elements twisted an unambiguous statement by IPOB where we clarified that in the meantime that our Leader is in detention, the Head of DOS, Mazi Edoziem, will be providing direction on the day-to-day activities of IPOB. We never said that Edoziem had become the Acting Leader of IPOB.
“For the avoidance of doubts, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu remains the leader of IPOB. The entire IPOB family all over the world is loyal to him. IPOB has no Acting Leader. Chika Edoziem is only the Head of DOS of IPOB not the Leader.
“We, therefore, urge our family members, supporters, friends, and members of the public to ignore the misleading and mischievous media report.”
Terrorists Responsible for Owo Church Massacre in Our Custody – General Irabor
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has said that the military has arrested the terrorists behind the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.
General Lucky Irabor according to news monitored on SolaceBase, made the revelation on Tuesday, during a parley with media executives at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
Appreciating the collaboration with sister security agencies, which helped in the arrests of the criminals, Irabor recalled that about 40 person’s were brutally murdered when heavily armed men invaded their worship centre on June 5, 2022.
My Invitation to Rivers to Commission Projects Demonstration of Politics Without Bitterness – Sanwo-Olu
By Eric Elezuo
The Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said that his invitation by the Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, to commission a project in Rivers State, is a clear demonstration of politics without bitterness. This is noting that the Lagos State governor is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Wike is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (APC).
On Monday, Sanwo-Olu was a guest of the Rives governor to commission the Orochiri-Worokwu (Waterlines) Flyover delivered by the state government.
In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu commended Governor Wike for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.
“I would like to specially commend my brother, Governor Wike, for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.
“A commitment that has been recognized by all and sundry, and which has earned him the appellation of “Mr. Projects” within and outside Rivers State,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said though himself and governor Wike belong to different political persuasions, the invitation extended to him sends a very strong message that politicians and political leaders, can come together across political and ideological divides, for the good of the people.
“There is also a strong message being made today about expanding our capacity to play politics without bitterness. This symbolic gesture by my friend and brother is one that should become standard practice across Nigeria.
“There is also a lot that we can learn from one another, and experience that we can translate from one part of the country to the other,” Sanwo-Olu stated.
It will recalled that Wike is in the habit of inviting notable politicians across parties as guests of honour during the unveiling of any of his projects. The likes of governor of Ekiti State, who is also an APC member and Sports Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare were once invited to commission projects in the state.
Governor Wike had explained that the invitation of the Lagos State governor was not the first time persons of other political parties were invited to inaugurate projects in Rivers State, pointing to the overall benefits such invitations have on governance because it served as peer review for them.