Anxiety grips AFN as IAAF’s deadline over ‘missing’ $134,000 expires soon

Sebastian Coe, current IAAF President. Photo/irishmirror

Top officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) are running from pillar to post in their bid to save the country from ban, as the deadline issued by World athletics ruling body, IAAF over the ‘missing’ $134,000, expires soon.

The IAAF had given Nigeria two weeks to refund the money, which was mistakenly paid into a Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the Sports Ministry two years ago.

The amount was paid by IAAF as part of its $15,000 annual grant to member federations for the year 2017. But instead of the $15,000, the IAAF mistakenly paid $150, 000 into the Sports Ministry’s TSA.

The transaction allegedly took place at a time when the boards of the various sports federations were dissolved. To avoid ‘fraudulent’ activities, the Sports Ministry then directed all sports federations to operate the TSA.

When the IAAF accountants discovered the error and subsequently asked for refund of the excess payment a few days after remitting the money to Nigeria, the AFN did nothing about it until the body came up with its ultimatum last week.

An official of the AFN told The Guardian yesterday that its president, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau had written a letter three days ago reminding the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung on the need to pay the money before the deadline expires next Tuesday. “This present AFN board does not know anything about the money because the transaction took place before we came in,” the official said.

Contacted yesterday, the Technical Director of AFN, Sunday Adeleye said: “It is something to be worried about, especially as the deadline issued by the IAAF gets closer. But we are not sleeping. It will be a disaster for Nigerian athletics to face IAAF ban. I am sure it will be settled before next Tuesday.”

Meanwhile, Nigerian sports journalists have condemned the country’s failure to return the excess of $135,000 dollars to the world body.

In a statement yesterday, the journalists said it was regrettable that the AFN and the Ministry of Sports had for over two years failed to find out how the money developed wings to the extent that the IAAF has threatened sanctions on Nigeria.

They added: “We are even more worried because when the issue broke out, the House of Representatives Committee on Sports said it would investigate the matter, but till date nothing has been heard.

“Perhaps, if the lawmakers had diligently carried out their investigation, the country would have been saved this international embarrassment.”

The journalists called on “the Federal Government, in line with its zero tolerance for corruption, to immediately initiate a thorough investigation into how we arrived at this inglorious situation and bring everybody involved to book.”

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