‘Court has not validated Kebbi elective congress, Okowa remains AFN President’
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has said that the ruling of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday did not validate the elective congress purportedly held in Kebbi and wishes to unequivocally state that the Tonobok Okowa-led executive board of the Federation elected at an elective congress in Abuja on June 14, 2021, remains the national governing body.
The Okowa-led board, according to a statement signed by AFN Secretary-General, Prince Adeniyi Adisa Beyioku, is recognised by World Athletics, Confederation of African Athletics, the Nigeria Olympic Committee and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
The Federation said the court only declined jurisdiction on the application brought before it by Dr Solomon Alao in his personal capacity as the South West Zonal representative on the board of the AFN.
The suit was not instituted by the AFN, adding that judgement was not delivered on the merits of the case.
The AFN statement said: “The former president of the AFN, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau raised an objection pertaining to the jurisdiction of the Court in Lagos to adjudicate on the matter as he has filed a case challenging the elective congress of June 14, 2021, in Abuja pending before a court in Abuja. Gusau argued he filed his case prior to Dr Alao’s application before the Federal High Court in Lagos, and it was on this basis the court declined jurisdiction.”
The court did not deliver judgement on the merit of the case and has not validated the elective congress in Kebbi organised in contravention of the provisions of articles 6.1.4, 6.1.5, 8.3.6 and 8.3.9 of the AFN constitution (2017).
Mr Gusau was told by World Athletics unequivocally in a letter addressed to him on May 14, 2021, of the sanctity of the 2017 constitution of the Federation adopted at its November 16, 2017 congress in Abuja.
The letter, signed by Carolyn Launois on behalf of Mr Jon Ridgeon, the Chief Executive Officer of World Athletics, reads: To confirm World Athletics’ position is that the 2017 AFN constitution applies, to be clear, World Athletics has never recognised and does not recognise the claimed 2019 constitution, and so any election must be held in accordance with 2017 constitution.”
According to AFN, the purported amendment of the 2017 constitution by an illegal congress in December 2019 in Awka, Anambra state was not done pursuant to articles 10.1.2 and 10.1.3 of its constitution.
The world governing body had earlier, through its reconciliation mission to Abuja in April, affirmed that the 2017 AFN constitution is the only working document it recognises and must be used for the conduct of the June 14 elective congress.
“The AFN board led by Tonobok Okowa remains the legitimate governing body for track and field in Nigeria, and the general public, especially stakeholders in athletics should take note,” the AFN scribe further said.