Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba has described himself as “shocked” and “disappointed” about allegations of financial impropriety at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and revealed that board members of the federation will be invited to the floor of the Senate before the expiration of the 8th Senate, to give account of the erroneous payment of $150,000 made to the AFN by world athletics governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) in 2017.
The AFN has been awash with controversy stemming from the IAAF payment which was $135,000 over the amount due the AFN and the world athletics governing body subsequently issued the country a two-week ultimatum to return the balance of $130,000 or face a global ban from all athletics activities.
That ultimatum has since expired and although unconfirmed reports indicate that the former Sports Minister Solomon Dalung – who had promised to repay the money last year and whose impending departure led the IAAF to make the matter public – had initiated a part payment to the IAAF last week, there are no confirmations from the AFN or the IAAF that any such payment took place. It is believed that Dalung had requested for more time to pay the money before leaving office last week.
The fallout from this saga has however splintered the AFN into warring factions after long-simmering tensions between warring members exploded into a full-blown conflict with two distinct groups now laying claim to being the authentic board.
Embattled AFN president Ibrahim Gusau rejected claims that he had been forced out by the faction loyal to Olamide George who before laying claim to the AFN leadership was vice president under Gusau. Gusau had been fingered in the misappropriation of the IAAF funds, an allegation he firmly denies.
Senator Ogba, speaking after winning reelection as the Chairman of the Ebonyi State Football Association, said all interested parties will be invited to speak before the sports committee “to brief the Senate on the happenings” before the 8th Senate winds down on the 6th of June.
“I am very, very shocked [and] very, very disappointed too, but as soon as we get back, I am going to invite the AFN to the Senate” the Senator who won his reelection bid to represent Ebonyi Central Senatorial district said about current the state of affairs in the AFN.
“At least before the inauguration of the ninth assembly, I still have some days to invite them to hear from them before the committee is dissolved because, in the ninth assembly, I don’t know who would be the chairman or members of the sports committee but before that is done I feel there is need for the AFN to come and brief the Senate on the happenings.”