World athletics ruling body, IAAF, may stop Nigerian athletes from participating in this year’s African Games in Morocco, the World Athletics Championships in Doha, as well as the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo following the country’s refusal to refund the $134,000 mistakenly paid into the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN)’s account two years ago.
The amount was said to have been 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 to the AFN.
IAAF accountants, on discovering the error, subsequently asked AFN to refund the excess payment, a request that has still not been granted till now despite Sports Minister Solomon Dalung once offering to pay half of the money.
In a letter to the Nigerian athletics governing body on Monday, the IAAF threatened to impose sanctions on the Federation if it did not refund the money in two weeks.
The letter addressed to the President of the Federation, Ibrahim Gusau, and signed by Jee Isram, Senior Manager, Governance, Member & International Relations Department of the IAAF, reads:
“You were informed on March 14, 2018, by our CEO of a payment made by the IAAF to the bank account of your federation on May 17, 2017. A sum of $150,000 was transferred by the IAAF of which $134,000 was wrongly credited.
“We promptly notified you of this overpayment and followed up with several written correspondences, as well as a meeting with you in November 2017 requesting that you reverse the bank transfer for the overpaid amount to no avail.
“On June 28, 2018, you informed us that the ministry of sports was ready to refund 50 percent of that amount and despite several telephone conversations the amount was still not paid.
“While we were in Asaba in August 2018 during the African Senior Championships, we met with the minister of sports and the Permanent Secretary. We discussed about the return of the funds to the IAAF and until today we have not heard anything.
“We understand that the minister of sports will be stepping down soon and it is imperative that you arrange for the return of the full amount within two weeks at the latest. Failure to receive the funds back within that period, we will have no alternative than to apply appropriate sanctions against your Federation.”
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