AFN president states position on IAAF’s ‘missing’ $130,000
Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, has explained his role in the IAAF’s ‘missing’ $130,000, saying he is innocent of the allegations levelled against him by some members of the federation as reported in the media.
The IAAF sent $150,000, in 2017, to the AFN, instead of the $20,000, which the world body was expected to contribute to the development of athletics in Nigeria. In a statement made available to The Guardian, Gusau said Nigerians deserved to know the truth in the matter, hence, he chose to set the records straight.
While narrating the genesis of the issue, Gusau said the IAAF, in a letter to AFN on May 19, 2017 and signed by C. Hering, wrote: “I am pleased to inform you that on May 17, 2017, we transferred the amount of $150,000 to the bank account of your federation. This amount corresponds to a competition grant for the 2017 CAA Grand Prix scheduled on July 1 in Warri. I remain available for any further information.”
He noted, however, that the IAAF wrote another letter on March 14, 2018 and signed by O. Gers, which dwelt on reimbursement of wrongful credit.
According to Gusau: “On March 3, 2017, the IAAF wrote to the AFN’s General Secretary that the IAAF would grant the AFN the sum of $20,000 to support the organisation and hosting of the CAA Golden Event organised by the AFN in Warri. On May 17, 2017, the sum of $150,000 was transferred by the IAAF to the AFN’s bank account of which $130,000 was wrongfully credited.”
He said the IAAF promptly notified the AFN of the overpayment and followed it up in several written correspondences, as well as a meeting in November 2017, requesting a reversal for the overpaid amount.He added: “AFN received yet another correspondence from IAAF signed by J. Isram and dated July 20, 2017. The letter read: “I would be grateful if you could kindly ask your bank to accept the return of the overpaid amount of $130, 000 to the IAAF asap.”
Gusau said the IAAF again sent a mail to the AFN on May 13, 2019, where it reminded the Nigerian federation that it had not returned the overpaid money.
According to Gusau, the mail read: “While we were in Asaba, in August 2018, during the African Senior Championships, we met with the Minister of Sports and his Permanent Secretary. We discussed the return of the funds to the IAAF and until today, we have not heard anything.
“We understand that the Minister of Sports will be stepping down soon and it is imperative that you arrange for the return of the full amount within two weeks, at the least. Failure to receive the funds back within that period, we will have no alternative than to apply appropriate sanctions against your Federation.”
Sequel to the IAAF letters, Gusau said he sent three mails to the former Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, pleading for the reimbursement of the wrongful credits. One of such letters dated September 30, 2017, according to Gusau, reads: “Prior to the inauguration of the new board on the July 21, 2017, the AFN had on May 17, 2017 received the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) as competition grant to facilitate the organisation of the 2017 CAA grand prix scheduled on July 1, 2017in Warri, Delta State. The championship date and venue were later changed to July 18, 2017 in Ozoro, Delta State. These changes were communicated to CAA and IAAF. The championship was successfully organised as planned.
“However, two months after the competition grant was received, the International Association of Athletics Federations wrote to inform the athletics federation that the grant was an overpayment in excess of $130,000 and should be refunded. In view of the foregoing, I wish to humbly appeal for the timely intervention of the ministry to ensure timely resolution of this challenging situation so as to also avoid further penalties.”
On May 15, 2019, Gusau said he sent another letter to the minister, reminding him of the need to refund the excess money to IAAF to avoid sanctions as threatened by the world body.
“From the above, it is clear that the money, being not an annual grant, was received by the former AFN Secretary General, Amechi Akawo, a staff of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development at a time the Solomon Ogba-led board of which I was a member had exited, while the current board, which I now lead as president, was yet to be inaugurated and ipso facto, not in office.
“If IAAF had not made a mistake, if the honesty in asking questions and returning to IAAF what does not belong to AFN was done timely, this situation would have been averted to the credit of Nigeria’s image. I am the chief victim in this entire ugly scenario that has touched negatively on our athletes, sports stakeholders, and Nigerians.
“For some board members of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria to visit the former Minister of Youth and Sports Development on the eve of his exit from office to say an AFN board meeting was held with five, out of 13 board members, where a decision was taken for the AFN President to step aside for investigations into alleged misappropriation of the USD130, 000 refund is, to say the least, a step in looking for a scapegoat and turning the chief victim into the perpetrator,” Gusau said.
He lamented that the “provisions of the AFN constitution were flouted in the so-called stepping aside, making it illegal.He also said the “money approved by the minister for Nigeria’s participation at the CAA Championships in Warri was used to buy kits and pay for only half of the allowances of the athletes and a detailed analysis of how the money was spent was retired to the Ministry in 2018 and successfully so.”
He alleged that three AFN board members, who lost the last election for the leadership of the board, still bore grudges against him, adding, “If the quantum of resources being spent by the trio is used for the good of our dear sports, we will be better off.”
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