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Okagbare, other athletes to testify at AFN’s probe panel

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Blessing Okagbare

• Board members, coaches, journalists also invited
United States-based Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare and other athletes have been contacted by the probe panel set up by sports minister, Sunday Dare to investigate the poor performance of Team Nigeria at the just concluded Doha 2019 World Athletics Championships.

The eight-man panel headed by former board member of the AFN, Prof. Ken Anugweje, started its operations in Abuja yesterday.

A member of the panel, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, hinted that some notable athletes who were part of Team Nigeria’s delegation to Doha had been contacted to speak on what transpired at the World Championship.

“We have just one week to carry out assignment, but to get to the bottom line, we have decided to contact some key athletes who took part in the World Championship in Doha to speak their mind on what happened.

“We have also contacted some AFN board members who were in Doha to appear before us. Other stakeholders like ex-athletes, coaches and sports journalists are not left out because we need contributions from everyone who has the interest of Nigerian athletics at heart,” the member stated.

The Sports Minister inaugurated the eight-man panel on Monday in Abuja after several weeks of speculations.

Apart from Prof. Ken Anugweje, the panel also has former chairman of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, as member. Other members are Rotimi Obajimi, Umar Bindir, Falilat Ogunkoya, Mary Onyali and Dare Esan. A former secretary of the AFN, Maria Wophill, is secretary to the panel.

The Guardian learnt yesterday that some notable Nigerians, including former athletes, coaches and sports administrators, appeared before the panel yesterday in Abuja.

Though, no member of the panel was ready to speak on what transpired at yesterday’s sitting, it was learnt that a majority of those who showed up canvassed for the dissolution of the Ibrahim Gusua-led AFN board with immediate effect and a committee set up to run its affairs for the country to achieve good results at Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games.

Among other things, the panel will investigate the factors responsible for the avoidable disqualification of Okagbare and Divine Oduduru in Doha.

The panel is also expected to probe the avoidable massive and unacceptable technical and administrative lapses that embarrassed the nation at the championship.

Team Nigeria, with 25 athletes and unspecified number of officials, returned from Doha with just one medal, a bronze won by Ese Brume in the women’s long jump.

Midway into the championship, the sports minister ordered the immediate recall of AFN Technical Director, Sunday Adeleye from Doha due to technical and administrative lapses.


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