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Nigeria could be banned for failure to refund the International Association of Athletics Federation an amount of US$135 000

The International Association of Athletics Federation says it mistakenly overpaid a grant to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, but the Minister of Sports says the money will not be returned.



In May 2017, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) transferred US$150 000 instead of US$15 000 to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) as part of a contribution to the African Championships. However, Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, says Nigeria has done nothing wrong. He told local press, “I think Nigeria has been unfairly treated because the issue has been painted and promoted as if there was wrongdoing on the part of Nigeria. Certainly not. Grants were released to Nigeria on 17 May 2017. On the 19th, the IAAF confirmed the transaction. After two months, people from the IAAF turned around and cried foul, saying that it was a mistake.”

The Nigerian Minister, who is set to leave office in the next few weeks, further accused those who support the IAAF in this matter as “enemies of the country”. The failure to refund the money within the two-week period that the IAAF has given Nigeria could lead to a sanction on Nigeria’s athletics.

Osasu Obayiuwana, a BBC World football reporter, wrote to the IAAF to gain clarification on the situation and on the error the IAAF made. Yannis Nikolaou, Senior Manager, Communications, said in response, “The Nigerian Minister of Sports announced an investigation into the missing funds. The Minister of Sports confirmed in a meeting at the African Championships in Asaba last year that the funds would be repaid. Any sanctions will be discussed first with the National Federation.”

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While international shame continues to swallow the country’s image, Nigeria’s Minister sees no wrong in his actions. He brazenly questioned, “When did they realise they made a mistake when the transaction had been 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 the IAAF two months to realise a mistake? An international organisation, highly reputable? 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?”

While there is no indication of when Nigeria will return the money erroneously paid to it, some have pointed out that the Minister of Sports simply exhibited what the average Nigerian would do. This has led to conversations around fraud and the arrest of Internet fraudsters, whom many have said are no different from Minister Solomon Dalung.