Sports Ministry will refund IAAF’s $130,000 soon – AFN
The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports is set to refund $135,000 mistakenly paid to the country as grants by the global athletics body, International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).
This was made known in a telephone chat with the Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Mr Sunday Adeleye who attended a closed-door meeting called by the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung on Tuesday.
The meeting was called to seek ways to avoid possible sanctions by athletics world body, IAAF over the country’s inability to refund $130,000, to the world body.
It will be noted that the debt occurred when the IAAF mistakenly paid $150,000 to AFN instead of the yearly $15,000 grant in 2017. The world body promptly notified they AFN of the mistake and demanded that the excess $130,000 be refunded it paid into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the Sports Ministry two years ago.
However, two years down the line, the AFN and the Sports Ministry have failed to refund the money which has led to suspicion that the money may have been spent illegally by the officials in the know.
According to Adeleye, “it was a closed-door meeting where we discussed the pressing issue which is the IAAF money and we talked about the preparation for All Africa Games, Olympics Tokyo 2020.
“But so far so good, we are on the same page and all hands are on deck concerning the letter from IAAF.
“It has received attention. We have a deadline to return the money and we must comply. It is just like FIFA writing NFF to say you must comply and you say you won’t. It is like a child who sees fire and says it won’t burn you, he said.”
He further stated that the process to return the funds will continue after Dalung must have stepped down on May 28th as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Government is a continuous process, even if the minister is not in office again, the perm secretary who has been part and parcel of the process will continue from where the minister will stop, he said.”
As contained its letter sent to the AFN dated 12th May, 2019, the IAAF detailed how it has been trying unsuccessfully for two years to get a refund.
The IAAF senior manager for governance, Jee Isram, noted in the letter: “You were informed on 18 March 2018 by our CEO of a payment made by the IAAF to the bank account of your federation on 17 May 2017. A sum of 150,000 US Dollars was transferred by the IAAF of which 130,000 US Dollars were wrongfully credited.
“We promptly notified you of this over-payment and followed up 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 28 June 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 his permanent secretary. We discussed about the return of the funds to the IAAF and until today we have not heard anything.”
It will be noted that the two-week deadline given expires on 26th of May, 2019 and failure to refund the money could put at risk Nigeria’s participation in this year’s African Games in Morocco, IAAF World Championships in Doha and perhaps next year’s 2020 Olympics in Tokyo..