ICPC detains, releases AFN scribe over IAAF money

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The Secretary-General of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Amaechi Akawo, was on Wednesday detained by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission over his role in the missing IAAF $135,000.

The ICPC is currently investigating how the money, which was paid into the account of the AFN, was spent.

The world athletics mistakenly paid $150,000 instead of $15,000 as grant to the AFN in 2018 but the whereabouts of the extra $135,000 sparked controversy in the country’s sports sector, with no clear explanation on how it was spent.

Ex-sports minister Solomon Dalung refunded $70,000 to IAAF last year.

The spokesperson of the ICPC, Rasheedat Okoduwa, confirmed to The PUNCH that Akawo, who is also an employee of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, was released on Thursday.

Akawo, it was learnt, was invited by the anti-graft agency after a petition by the AFN president Shehu Gusau.

 “Yes, he was detained yesterday (Wednesday) but released today (Thursday) on bond,” Okoduwa informed our correspondent via a text message.

Barely 24 hours to Akawo’s detention, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, announced the payment of the refund of $65,000 as balance of the excess money paid into the AFN account.

Though Dare said the money was paid to save Nigeria’s reputation, there were allegations that the minister’s move necessitated the detention of the official.

Findings by our correspondent showed that some sports ministry officials were worried over the new twist of the ongoing investigation.

 Our correspondent was told that Akawo was “detained by the ICPC officials to ensure a comprehensive grilling.”

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Sources in the ICPC confided in our correspondent that “Akawo and other ministry officials were indicted in the case.”

“I can tell you that investigation is ongoing and those concerned are being invited,” Okoduwa added.

According to a board member of the AFN, Shehu Gusau, the AFN boss is being pressurised to withdraw his petition.

“Akawo has been under the hot seat for the past three days. Investigation is seriously on and the ministry is in disarray because their member of staff has been detained and a lot of hands have been soiled in that matter.

“They have been going up and down lobbying that the case should be struck out, but Nigerians must know the truth.

“The officials are now in trouble, that is why they pressured the minister to pay the money. They want to clear a trash. They now know that things are falling back on them.”

On his part, another board member of the AFN, Brown Ebewele, added that the ministry’s officials should be “properly investigated” over how the money was spent.

He said, “At the time this money was credited, all the federations’ boards were dissolved. There was only the secretariat and the Secretary-General. As at when the money was paid, only the Secretary-General had access to the account. Why are we now asking where is IAAF money, when it is only one person that had access to the account?

“There was nothing like the present board taking the money because as at when the money was paid, we were not in existence.”

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Olusola 'Jide

I'm an avid and seasoned sports/ multimedia journalist. I have a biased love for Real Madrid and passionate advocate for the overall growth of the Nigeria Sports Project. I can be reached on 09077894123 or/and 'info@thesportsbay.com'

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