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Corruption: Save Our Sports drags Habu Gumel, NOC to EFCC

*Fall out of Sports Federation election guidelines

By Oluwole Francis

With the twist of events, a group, Save Our Sports, will today be dragging the outgoing President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Engineer Habu Gumel, to the EFCC for corruption-related allegations while calling on the Federal Government to stand up and step up their fight against corruption in sports.

In a 12-page document that will be submitted to the anti-corruption agency, it was dated 20th April 2017 and signed by Mr Inuwa Salihu Wada and Barrister Adejonwo Oluwadare,  President and Secretary respectively of the organisation.

The petitioners noted, “imagine the NOC collected money from the Federal Government through the Ministry of Sports for an event already paid for by their international body.

According to the petition, “despite government fully shouldering the financial burden of its athletes, the IOC fully paid the NOC for the flight and insurance of all athletes for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

We demand a mandatory investigation of the NOC Executive Committee headed by Habu Gumel. Where is the monies IOC paid the NOC for this purpose? Are they in private pockets?”

The petition informed the investigators that, “Habu Gumel became a Member and Chairman of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation since 1988 till date, Executive Vice-President, Confederation of African Volleyball (1997 till date); Treasurer (1997-2001), then President (2001-2010 and 2014 till date), Nigeria Olympic Committee (1997-2001); Member/Secretary, Finance Commission, International Volleyball Federation (1998 till date); Executive Vice-President, FIVB (2008 till date); FIVB Technical Delegate for the London 2012 Olympic Games (2009-); Member, Steering Committee of FIVB Development Fund (2010-); Director, Sports Facilities, National Sports Commission, Abuja (2000-2009); Presidential Committee Member, All-Africa Games (2002-2003); Member/Chairman, Technical Committee, Abuja Bid Committee for the 2014 Commonwealth Games (2005-2007); President, Zone 3, Association of the National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) (2005-2009); ANOCA Executive Board Member (2005-); Treasurer General of ANOCA (2009 till date)

It also listed that, “Gumel is a member of the following Commissions: Sport and Environment (2010-2015), TV Rights and New Media (2014-2015), Coordination for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020 (2013-), Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport (2015-), Olympic Channel (2015-), Evaluation for the Games of XXXIII Olympiad in 2024 (2016-); Delegate Member for Broadcast rights – Africa except MENA (2015-).

A senior ministry official when confronted spoke strictly on anonymity saying, “in cases where the ministry cannot provide for these kind of expenses because they were not budgeted for, these federations will choose to exploit the passion of Nigerians through the media to embarrass and ridicule the government and force them to forcefully cough out something. That has been the trend.

The source added, “most times, the federations pay for these presidents courtesy of welfare allowances, free airfare for local and international travels, feeding and accommodation for their official assignments. That is why many of them don’t like leaving.

Let me tell you, the real stakeholders are the former athletes many who own and spend their money in running academies, organise grassroots events, owning and funding their clubs and supporting athletes. They are frustrated out of the system and labelled as outcasts and impostors.

An athletics buff, Barrister Dehinde Akinshola told www.gongnews.net “in cases where people have decided to question their shady style of administering their federations, they run to their international bodies complaining of government interference. When they present their annual budgets and collect money from government, they do not complain of government interference.

It is funny that most federations who have not been able to raise 1kobo from other forms of sponsorship apart from government will also complain about interference anytime government (Minister) is asking questions. They are sick.

A radio journalist monitored yesterday in Abuja had said in his programme, “All these federations receive annual grants in foreign currency from their international bodies. A federation collects yearly $90,000 to pay the Secretary General. Whereas, the Secretary General is a government staff. So, where is the money, assuming in the last four years amounting to $360,000? None of them will be sincere enough to publish their audit report at the end of their calendar year.

He added, “All they do is run the federation as if it is their personal estates. That is why many of them collect official federation mails in their private e-mails and effectively shut out the docile Secretaries General of the federation.

A former national handball captain said, “the idea of taking them to face the EFCC will be great. We need it. I pray that they are quickly invited and made to account for the whole period they served in office. No wonder the NOC recently came out with a communiqué condemning the amended electoral guidelines for the federations elections.

“These men who are crippling the nation’s sports system and blocking young and vibrant Nigerians from aspiring for administrative and elective federation positions at the local and international scene have been affected by the recent policy by all stakeholders to bring sanity into the sector.

Instead, for us to fight these elements, they are so clever to use the media to poison our mind against the government and the minister. Please, tell them, they have failed.”

The time is NOW for the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari to beam its searchlight into the sports sector which is capable of revamping our dead economy if well managed.

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