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Rugby Africa suspends Nigeria over federation dissolution

Rugby Africa has suspended the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF) from participating in all Rugby Africa and World Rugby activities following what they described as “government interference.”

The suspension of the NRFF is with immediate effect, according to a letter from the African body made available to our correspondent on Tuesday.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Friday dissolved the boards of 30 sports federations, including the rugby federation, and inaugurated three-man caretaker committees to run the affairs of the federations ahead of elections scheduled for September.

Reacting to the board’s dissolution, Rugby Africa swiftly suspended the NRFF, meaning the country’s national team, the Black Stallions, would not participate in next month’s Rugby World Cup pre-qualifiers in Burkina Faso.

The letter, signed by Rugby Africa’s president Khaled Babbou, confirmed the suspension.

“We have learned of the dissolution of the boards of 31 (30) sports federations in Nigeria, including the rugby federation, to be replaced by handpicked caretaker committees,” Babbou said in a letter addressed to Sunday Dare.

“We would humbly remind the Honourable Minister that the constitution of the NRFF, which was ratified at their Extraordinary General Meeting held in Lagos on March 3, 2018, was also formally approved by Rugby Afrique and by World Rugby at the time.

“The dissolution of the duly elected board of NRFF is against the stipulations of the approved constitution and is highly disruptive for the unions’ operations. Consequently, we have no choice but to impose an immediate suspension of Nigeria’s participation in all Rugby Afrique and World Rugby activities until further notice.”

The country’s suspension has also led to the resignation of the NRFF’s Team Manager Dele Coker, who posted his resignation on Twitter.

“As you may be aware, the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development has dissolved most national sports federations, including @NigeriaRugby1. As an immediate result, @RugbyAfrique has responded that this move did not follow the approved process as stipulated in the NRFF’S ’s constitution. Consequently, #NRFF has been suspended from all #AfricaRugby tournaments and events with immediate effect. I am sad to report Nigeria will, therefore, no longer be allowed to participate in the @RugbyWorldCup repêchage tournament in Burkina Faso next month,” Coker tweeted.

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