Nigerian sports officials are either refusing to talk or passing blames after the country received overpayments from the global athletics body (IAAF), spent the money illegally, and refused to pay back for over two years.
On Monday, the International Association of Athletics Federations said it had done everything possible to get the $130,000 it mistakenly paid to Nigeria but said the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) had refused to pay up.
The association vowed to sanction the Nigerian federation if the money was not repaid within two weeks.
Sports Minister Solomon Dalung refused to comment on the matter, claiming the IAAF letter was not sent to his office. He told PREMIUM TIMES he would not speak about a letter circulating on social media.
But some officials have told PREMIUM TIMES Mr. Dalung knew too well about the money, and was the person who authorised the funds be disbursed.
Asked to respond to that allegation, Mr. Dalung declined comments. The spokesperson for the AFN, Amanzi Marcus, also denied responsibility for the illegal spending of the IAAF money.
The controversy, which came to light this week, has angered sports analysts and anti-corruption activists who argue that the refusal of Nigeria to refund a credit it received in error was a dent on the nation’s image.
A former president of the Lagos Branch of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Fred Edoreh, described the present situation as a “national disgrace”.
He said Nigeria already has its fair share of bad publicity and adding this new episode was “disheartening”.
“This is a national disgrace; another level of 419 you may call it…,” Mr Edoreh said. “If the IAAF mistakenly paid the federation in Nigeria money it is only right that we return what does not belong to us. But despite even the promise from the minister, two years after we are still on the issue this is very sad.” he said.