Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung and board members of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) held a marathon meeting yesterday to find ways of dodging possible sanctions by athletics world body, IAAF over the country’s inability to refund $135,000, to the world body.
The debt occurred when the IAAF mistakenly paid $150,000 to AFN instead of the yearly $15,000 grant. The world body promptly notified they AFN of the mistake and demanded that the excess $135,000 be refunded to it. That was in 2017. But since then the AFN has not been able to come up with the money raising suspicion that some highly placed individuals had misappropriated it.
The decision by the sports minister to hold the ‘emergency’ meeting with top officials of the AFN may not be unconnected with a pronouncement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday that it would launch an investigation to unearth the mystery surrounding the ‘disappearance’ of the IAAF $135,000, which the world body mistakenly paid into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the Sports Ministry two years ago.
An AFN board member, who pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that although the main focus of the meeting was for board members to work together, the issue of the ‘missing’ IAAF $135,000 would be ‘taken care of’ very soon. He said: “The sports minister told us that the reason he called the meeting was for harmony to prevail among board members of the AFN. He wants all of us to work together as members of one family. The issue of the IAAF $135,000 is receiving attention. I am sure the sports ministry will refund it very soon.”
The Guardian recalled that IAAF had given Nigeria a two-week deadline to refund the money or be ready to face sanctions.Meanwhile, Beijing 2008 Olympics bronze medallist, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguono settled for the third position at the Nanjing World Challenge earlier yesterday.While Okagbare raced to a Season Best of 22.58seconds to finish third in the 200m, a Nigerian-born Salwa Eld Naser, who competed for Bahrain ran a Personal Best of 22.56seconds to finish second. Jamaica’s Olympic double champion Elaine Thompson, who ran 22.40seconds, won the race.