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How IAAF Mistakenly Sent Nigeria $150,000 Instead of $15,000, Money Disappears



On May 17, 2017, the IAAF released the sum of $150,000 (about N52 million, at the time) into the bank account of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).
The money represented the annual grant for the year 2017 that the IAAF gives to the athletic federation of its member nations.
IAAF or International Association of Athletics Federations, (now known as World Athletics), is the worldwide governing body for the sport of athletics.
However, in November 2017, IAAF discovered an error, and then contacted the AFN. According to them, they erroneously paid $150,000 – instead of $15, 000 – into the account of the Nigerian association.
IAAF then requested that the AFN makes a refund of the balance of $135, 000, however, it turned out that the money had disappeared.
Officials of the IAAF met with the President of AFN, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, and followed up with series of letters. Solomon Dalung, the Minister of Sports at the time, was copied. Still, no response was gotten from the Nigerian end.

Former President of AFN, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau,

The Nigerian sports minister, Solomon Dalung, then “set up a committee” to uncover the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the erroneously sent money. Again, nothing came out from the investigation.
Months later, in June 2018, the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung eventually contacted the IAAF and promised that they would refund 50% of the money.
As soon as he made the promise, again, nothing was heard from the Nigerians. So, the Nigerian parties kept singing  confusing tunes.
However, information later leaked that that the money was shared by both the AFN and the top echelon of the Ministry of Sports.
In August 2018, after seeing no sign of compliance to their request, the IAAF then warned that Nigeria would incur sanctions if the AFN did not repay the money.

Solomon Dalung interpreted the warning as a threat that the IAAF would ban Nigeria from international competition.

The whole fiasco became an embarrassment for Nigeria in the international sporting circle.

Solomon Dalung, Nigeria’s former Minister of Sport

The AFN later came up with an excuse for the delay in the repayment. According to them, the AFN President Ibrahim Gusau spent the overpayment on kits for the Nigerian athletes at the Africa athletic championship held the year before.

However, the AFN board members would have none of this. They reportedly laid the blame squarely at Gusau, and the Secretary General who they believe should be responsible for paying the money back to the IAAF.

According to them, the money appeared to have been received with a personal bank account, instead of the TSA (Treasury Single Account) of the Federal Government.

On the threat of sanction on Nigeria, Dalung said, however, that there was “no reason” to ban Nigeria despite the failure to repay the money. He even went as far as accusing the IAAF of “Blackmail” and an involvement in a “calculated attempt to demean and destroy Nigerian athletics”.

The Sports Minister also insisted the country and the AFN were not guilty of any wrongdoing and questioned why it had taken the IAAF two months to realise they had made an overpayment.

However, in all of Dalung’s tirade, he and the AFN never gave account of how the $135, 000 was spent. No one believed the “fairy tale” that the huge amount would have been spent on acquiring kits for athletes.

Two years later, on May 28, 2019, a day to the swearing-in of President Mohammadu Buhari for a second term, the AFN and Solomon Dalung, made a refund of half of the expected money.
Solomon Dalung was not reappointed into the second term cabinet of Mohammadu Buhari.

Amaechi Akawu, former AFN Secretary-General

The new Sports Minister and Dalung’s successor, Sunday Dare, later approved the refund of $65,000 which represented the  outstanding amount owed the IAAF. In November 2019, IAAF confirmed the receipt of the outstanding amount.
On Tuesday 22nd October 2019, the former secretary general of AFN, Amaechi Akawu, was arrested by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Akawu was arrested on allegations of misappropriation of the $130,000. before later being released.

Investigation later revealed that Akawu, acting without AFN Board, got several approvals for the release of the money through a series of letters to the then Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung.
On the 29 November, 2019, Ibrahim Gusau, the President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), was suspended by members of the board of the AFN for the alleged “flagrant violation of the federation’s constitution”.
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