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Edo Athletes protest non-payment of Okpekpe Road Race prize money


Okpekpe International Road Race

  • Allege death threats from organisers

INDIGENOUS athletes at the May 16 Okpekpe Road Race in Edo State yesterday protested non- payment of advertised price monies six months after the event, appealling to the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole to come to their aid.

The athletes were at the Edo State secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) where they alleged that they suspect their money may have been embezzled.

The athletes, who participated in the race, said there were attempts to deny them the advertised amount, which ranges from N500, 000 to N50,000 in the indigenous category.

It would be recalled that the 10km Okpekpe Marathon Race held on May 16th 2015 was won by Kenya’s Alex Korio (male category) and Tanui Nkele (female category).

Winner of the indigenous category, Queensley Asedo, said several attempts to reach the organisers of the race, Alli Yusuf and Mike Itemuagbor, for payment of the said prize money were futile. She, therefore, appealed to the governor for intervention.

She explained that she had been under threats because of her insistence in getting her money. “I came first as an indigene, third in Nigeria and 14th position in the world; it was an international race.

“Our grievances are that we are not really happy with the way the race was organised. They camped the foreigners in a hotel and we slept on the field, yet they expected us to beat the foreigners. While the campaign was going on they increased the amount, which prompted me to train harder. And I called one of the organisers to confirm it and he said it was true that they have more sponsors this year and that the governor said they should increase the amount to N500, 000 both for indigenous male and female runners down to the eighth position, which is N50, 000.”

She continued: “On the event day when we finished the race, we heard the rumour that they would pay first three indigenes and first three Nigerians so we went straight to Mr. Yusuf Ali to complain. After the race we called for our award money and Mr. Yusuf Ali told us to be patient that they were making arrangement to meet the governor so that he could give us the cheque.

“Two weeks elapsed, three weeks, one month and we were pressurising them. So it got to a point they started insulting us when we called them and at times they won’t pick. The worst thing is that when we call Mr. Itemuagbor he will start insulting our parents and then I asked him why did you pay the foreigners and refused to pay us the indigene.

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