Nigerian Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has questioned the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over ‘missing’ $130,000, accusing the Association of ‘blackmail’ after the body gave Nigeria an ultimatum to refund the money it was paid in error.
Naija News recalls that the IAAF said Nigeria was overpaid by $130,000 in 2017, a sum which the body asked Nigeria to pay back within days or be sanctioned,
However, Nigeria’s officials have rejected all efforts to get the money back, with some trading blames and refusing to speak on the matter.
IAAF, in a letter sent to the president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Ibrahim Gusau, and signed by the IAAF Senior Manager, Governance, Jee Isram, said the AFN was contacted immediately the anomaly was noticed on March 18, 2017, to refund the sum of $130,000 that was wrongly credited.
“Failure to receive the funds back within that period, we will have no alternative than to apply appropriate sanctions against your Federation,” the letter read.
Speaking on the development, at the 2019 Okpekpe Road Race held on Saturday in Edo State, southern Nigeria, Dalung questioned the claims made by IAAF, claiming that Nigeria did nothing wrong.
His words: “I think Nigeria has been unfairly treated because the issue has been painted and promoted as if there was any wrongdoing on the part of Nigeria,” Mr Dalung said.
“Certainly not, grants were released to Nigeria on the 17th of May 2017. IAAF on the 19th confirmed the transaction; those from IAAF after two months turned round and cried foul that it was a mistake.
“I smell rat in the whole thing and I believe that the whole thing has been orchestrated in an attempt to blackmail Nigeria,” Dalung told journalists at Saturday’s race.
The minister continued: “Even when we went into it, we were not even convinced what the mistake was, is it a mistake of Nigeria or that of IAAF?
“When did they realise they made a mistake when the transaction was confirmed? I made a mistake in transferring money… I realised within 10 minutes and I called my bank and I retrieved the money. Why did it take IAAF two months to realise a mistake? An international organization, highly reputable?
“I think it is not about money erroneously credited to Nigeria, but there is a calculated attempt just to diminish and destroy Nigerian athletics, otherwise, I don’t see why they call it a mistake. We didn’t apply for a grant.”
When asked what Nigeria will do at least to save it from possible ban as threatened by the IAAF, the sports minister said: “Ban us for what? What has Nigeria done? What is the crime? Did we steal money from them? Did we ask them to transfer money to us?
“They transferred money to us, they confirmed the transaction to us, then after two months, they woke up from slumber.
“Is IAAF telling us they are as much disorganised as that? Where Nigeria is wrong, Nigeria will be own up but you cannot wake up and just realise that they have something to hold on to. We are not even convinced that there is any mistake, the money was sent for the golden relays and it was done. Are they saying there were no golden relays?
“I think those promoting this are trying to cry blue murder; I think they are just enemies of this country and we should ask questions,” Dalung concluded.