Stop ‘harassing’ AFN board members, Ebewele tells Dalung

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A board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Brown Ebewele has told the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung to stop ‘harassing’ board members of the federation with suspension and probe panels.

In the past two weeks, some top officials of the AFN had been at daggers-drawn with Dalung following his alleged interference in the day-to-day running of the federation.

Dalung recently set up a panel to investigate how the sum of $150,000 sent by world athletics body, IAAF, disappeared from AFN’s treasury, but the AFN officials say the action was wrong.

While the mystery surrounding the IAAF $150,000 is yet to be unmasked, another burning issue cropped up last week with the sports ministry suspending AFN Vice President, Olamide George.

The Sports Ministry suspended George, who is the chairman of Ondo State House of Assembly’s Youth and Sports Committee, on March 1 pending the review of his alleged involvement in the selling of performance enhancing drugs to an athlete, Folashade Abugun in 2010.

Interestingly, a panel earlier set up by the sports minister to investigate the issue had cleared Olamide George of any wrongdoing before the latest suspension.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Ebewele described as ‘big harassment’ the steps being taken by the sports minister towards board members of the AFN.

“I don’t know why a sports minister would suspend the vice president of the AFN after a panel set up by the same minister to investigate him cleared Olamide of any wrongdoing. In the first place, it was illegal for the sports ministry to set up such panel to investigate a board member of the AFN.

“Olamide George was elected by the Congress into the AFN board, and it is only the Congress that has the power to suspend him. Even the AFN board does not have such power. If Olamide commits any offence, it is the Congress that will determine whether or not he should be suspended. This is just a way of silencing him and we won’t allow it because it may be another person tomorrow,” Ebewele stated.

A letter made available to The Guardian at the weekend, signed by Mrs. Tayo Oreweme (chairman of the panel) and Amaechi Akawo (secretary), cleared Olamide George of his alleged involvement in selling performance enhancing drugs to a Nigerian athlete, Folashade Abugun in 2010.