The crisis rocking the Athletics Federation of Nigeria took a new dimension on Wednesday when the Ibrahim Gusau-led AFN declared autonomy from the sports ministry during their congress in Awka, the Anambra State capital.
The congress also announced the appointment of Siminialayi Pepple, as the general secretary for the federation and Irikefe Ogbogbo as the federation’s legal adviser, while also approving the appointment of an external auditor.
The AFN has been enmeshed in a crisis, which heightened on Tuesday, with two factions of the board holding parallel meetings in Abuja and Awka respectively.
The 15-member AFN board has seven backing Gusau, while a faction led by the vice president of the athletics body, Olamide George, has eight members.
George’s faction met at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday and suspended the AFN president, Ibrahim Gusau, naming George as the acting president.
But in a swift reaction, Gusau’s faction met at a congress at the Golden Tulip Hotel and Resort, Agulu, Anambra State, where they announced the suspension of George and five others for two years over “anti-federation activities, gross violation of the provisions of the federation’s constitution.”
Others suspended alongside George are Brown Ebewele, Rosa Collins, Gabriel Okon, DIG Sani Mohammed (retd.) and Fidelis Gadzama.
They also passed a vote of confidence on Gusau as the president of the board and declared their autonomy from the sports ministry, citing international best practices and statues of the World Athletics and CAA.
The congress had in attendance chairmen and secretaries of state athletic associations, as well as CEO of the Confederation of African Athletics Lamy Faty and the representative of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Solomon Ogba.
The members rejected the resignation of Ogba as a member of the board and the directive from the sports ministry calling for the sack of Sunday Adeleye as the federation’s Technical Director.
In an interview with our correspondent, Ogba said ministry’s interference in the federation’s affairs and the emergence of a new faction could lead to sanctions from world body IAAF.
“The battle has just started, because the IAAF will not deal with those people (Olamide George’s faction), the IAAF will deal with Gusau,” Ogba said.