Solomon Lalung

The Minister of Sports and Youths Development Solomon Dalung has questioned the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) over the refund of a $130,000 overpayment.

Concise News understands that the IAAF overpaid Nigeria by $130,000 in 2017 and have told the country to pay back within days or be sanctioned,

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“Failure to receive the funds back within that period, we will have no alternative than to apply appropriate sanctions against your Federation,” the IAAF said in a letter to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

However, while speaking on the development on Saturday in Edo State, Dalung questioned the claims made by IAAF, saying that Nigeria did no wrong.

“I think Nigeria has been unfairly treated because the issue has been painted and promoted as if there was any wrongdoing on the part of Nigeria,” Dalung noted.

“Certainly not, grants were released to Nigeria on the 17th of May 2017. IAAF on the 19th confirmed the transaction; those from IAAF after two months turned round and cried foul that it was a mistake.

“I smell rat in the whole thing and I believe that the whole thing has been orchestrated in an attempt to blackmail Nigeria.”

He added that “Even when we went into it, we were not even convinced what the mistake was, is it a mistake of Nigeria or that of IAAF?

“When did they realise they made a mistake when the transaction was confirmed? I made a mistake in transferring money… I realised within 10 minutes and I called my bank and I retrieved the money.

“Why did it take IAAF two months to realise a mistake? An international organization, highly reputable?

“I think it is not about money erroneously credited to Nigeria, but there is a calculated attempt just to diminish and destroy Nigerian athletics, otherwise, I don’t see why they call it a mistake. We didn’t apply for a grant.”

On Nigeria getting sanctions, he asked: “Ban us for what? What has Nigeria done? What is the crime? Did we steal money from them? Did we ask them to transfer money to us?

“They transferred money to us, they confirmed the transaction to us, then after two months, they woke up from slumber.

“Is IAAF telling us they are as much disorganised as that? Where Nigeria is wrong, Nigeria will be own up but you cannot wake up and just realise that they have something to hold on to.

“We are not even convinced that there is any mistake, the money was sent for the golden relays and it was done. Are they saying there were no golden relays?

“I think those promoting this are trying to cry blue murder; I think they are just enemies of this country and we should ask questions.”