BY SALIFU USMAN, Abuja
The embattled president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Hon. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, has given reasons for challenging in court his purported suspension and impeachment by the Olamide George-led faction backed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
Gusau told LEADERSHIP Friday Sports through the director-general of AFN, Siminialaye Young Papple, that his action was to protect the federation from the interference of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and safeguard the provisions of the AFN’s constitution in conformity with the World Athletics (WA) and Confederation of African Athletics (CAA).
He said that the 2017 AFN constitution did not provide for internal resolution of dispute, nor arbitration. “The minister and Ministry of Youth and Sports Development cannot be subjected to arbitration as they are not members of the AFN. Arbitration is usually between members of the same organisation, bound by the same statutes.
“The minister and the ministry are not also bound by the provision of the CAA, WA or IOC statutes since they are not affiliated to these bodies.
The only body that can ad- judicate over the minister and the ministry is the judiciary (courts of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria),” Papple said. Contrary to insinuations that the Shehu Gusau-led AFN was looking for the autonomy to wave off government’s oversight functions over the federation, Papple said that the body only wants to operate in line with international best practice while the government retains its oversight functions, but not to dictate how the federation runs its day to day administrative functions.
He said that autonomy allow the federation to seek funding for its activities and account for the same to stakeholders who provided them. “Let the federation hire its workers (including its head of administration) so it can fire when it’s expectations are not met.
“Let the federation run its ac- counts so it can account to its sponsors and stakeholders. The ministry can appoint a liaison officer to up- date it on the activities of the federation. Any funds being provided by the ministry to the federation should be released to the liaison officer who will disburse the funds, with the approval of the federation and in line with the reasons for which the funds are released. He or she will also account to the ministry in respect of the funds,” Papple stated.
LEADERSHIP Friday Sports recalls that Gusau filed a suit against the sports ministry and AFN in March, praying that his impeachment be reversed. Justice A. I. Chikere of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja (Court 3) nullified the impeachment and affirmed that Shehu-Gusau remained the president of the body.
But the ministry went on appeal challenging the lower court ruling, and the appellate court dis- missed the appeal, saying it lacked merit.