NIGERIA is facing the prospect of an international athletics ban over allegations that the sports ministry misappropriated a sum of $135,000 accidentally paid to it by the International Amateur Athletics federation (IAAF).
Last year, the IAAF accidentally overpaid the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) $150,000 instead of $135,000. Every year, the IAAF pays member federations an annual grant of $15,000 but $150,000 was erroneously sent to AFN and upon the discovery of the mistake the AFN was asked to refund the excess payment.
Over the last year, the IAAF has been asking for the excess to be refunded but it appears that the sports ministry has since spent the money. In a recent letter addressed to the AFN and signed by Jee Isram who is the IAAF’s senior manager governance, Nigeria has been reminded of the need to pay up the money within two weeks or the country will face appropriate sanctions.
During Asaba 2018 sports minister Solomon Dalung assured the IAAF that the money would be paid but up till now, there has been no reimbursement. It appears that the sports ministry took charge of the payment, so the AFN is unable to locate the funds or refund them.
AFN president Dan Ngerem, said: “This is shameful and appalling and a dent on the dignity of the 180m Nigerians. It is our collective destinies that have been impinged upon.
“Now just imagine the kind of reception we as Nigerians will get when we go out to international sports. This is a country where the president vowed to fight corruption and a minister in his cabinet is in the centre of this scandalous conduct.
“This is a calamity and I urge President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the matter and bring those involved to book to serve as a deterrent to others. This is a national embarrassment of great proportion. What is $150,000 for crying out loud?”
He further asked what is the business of the sports ministry with the funds. According to Mr Ngerem, it is tantamount to interference in the affairs of the federation.