AFN crisis deepens as Gusau’s faction suspends George, declares independence

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THE lingering crisis in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) was heightened yesterday in Awka, Anambra State, where the faction loyal to the embattled president of the federation, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau suspended the body’s vice president, Olamide George and his loyalists.

The George faction had on Tuesday in Abuja met and, among other things, suspended Gusau and elevated the vice president to acting president. They also set up a committee to investigate the several allegations against Gusau.

But in Awka yesterday, Gusau’s board cut short the euphoria that greeted the George elevation as its acting president, as it passed a vote of confidence on his leadership.

Apart from George, the AFN also suspended five others, including Brown Ebewele, Gabriel Okon, Ms. Rosa Colins, DIG Sani Mohammed (rtd.) and Fidelis Gadzama from the activities of the Federation.

Similarly, the board noted but rejected the resignation of its First Vice President, Solomon Ogba from the board. It urged Ogba “to continue contributing to the growth and development of athletics and indeed other sports in Nigeria.”

A communique issued after its extra-ordinary congress held at the Golden Tulip Hotel and Suite, Agulu Lake, Anambra State, and signed by Saidu Suleiman, Emmanuel Okonkwo and Shehu Adamu, Chairman, secretary and members, approved the appointment of Irikefe Ogbogbo, a lawyer, as the Federation’s legal Adviser and okayed the appointment of Siminialayi Young Pepple as its director-general.

It also considered series of letters from the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development on the alleged removal of Sunday Omotayo Adeleye as the elected Athletes’ Representative on the Board of AFN and Technical Director of the Federation and “rejected them in their entirety as they contravened the provisions of the constitution of the AFN, Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) and World Athletics (WA).

In addition, it noted that the body known as the Athletics Union of Nigeria is not recognized by the AFN, CAA, and WA.

In conclusion, the Federation declared its autonomy and independence from the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development and fixed its next congress for December 20, 2020.

The congress was witnessed by Chief Executive Officer of CAA, Lamine Faty, Ogba, who represented the President of Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Habu Ahmed Gumel and some chairmen and secretaries-general of states’ associations.

But while the congress was going on in Awka, George, who was named acting president in the Abuja meeting on Tuesday, issued a statement dismissing the pAwka congress as illegal.

He said, “It has come to our notice that the suspended president of our federation, Shehu Ibrahim Gusau gathered some impostors in Awka in the name of a congress which is in clear violation of the federation’s constitution Article 6.1.4 which states unambiquosly thus: The convening to the congress shall be sent to each member association by the AFN Head Office at least sixty (60) days prior to the date of the congress.”

George added that “We have seen pictures from the illegal congress and we have been reassured by the absence of the majority of the state associations chairmen who have been wondering why Mr. Gusau could be violating the constitution of the federation so flagrantly.

“This is all the more shocking when it is predicated against the fact that he was a former Nigeria lawmaker.”

George said the AFN would soon invite “Evangelist Ogba to come and explain how and why the $150,000 IAAF/CAA grant for the hosting of the 21st African Championships in Asaba was not paid into the federation’s account and I believe he should be busy preparing his defence instead of getting fooled by an illegal gathering of impostors.”

He also threatened to drag its Gusau to the Nigerian anti-graft agencies, “the EFCC and the ICPC, for possible forgery over the five-year deal signed with sportswear manufacturers, PUMA.”

Guardian

– Dec. 05, 2019 @ 09:00 GMT |

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