My hands are clean, says secretary
A report by an audit committee set up by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) to investigate its finances is causing ripples among its board members.
The AFN set up a five-man committee on September 16 during its executive board meeting to investigate the finances of the federation. The committee was headed by its First Vice President, Tafida Gadzama, with Victor Okorie (Performance Director), Samuel Onikeku (Technical Director), Oludare Esan and Mrs. Maria Worphil as members.
The Guardian learnt that the panel members beamed their searchlight on AFN’s expenditure during the National U-18 and U-20 trials held in Kaduna earlier this year, AFN Golden Leagues held in Abuja, Benin City and Uyo, as well as the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
It was further learnt that the panel also requested for update on the sponsorship fee collected from its title sponsor, Premium Trust Bank. The panel reports, which was posted on various social media platforms, at the weekend, showed that it questioned some financial transactions made by AFN Secretary General, Mrs Rita Moshindi.
Part of the report states that the secretary could not show enough evidence on approvals she got as well as evidence of payments (vouchers, cheque stubs) for the expenditures she undertook. The panel has called for her removal from the federation.
However, Moshindi has said that some members of the panel are merely looking for a way to call a dog a bad name to hang it. She said: “I have not done anything wrong to warrant their allegation of misappropriating AFN’s money.
“At the beginning of the season, there was no money for AFN to execute its programmes. It was becoming an embarrassment, and the First Vice President, Gadzama, Technical Director, Onikeku and myself drove to our president’s house in Abuja. At that brief meeting, we begged him (Tonobok Okowa) to rescue AFN from the impending embarrassment by giving us some money to enable us hold our programmes, promising that he would be reimbursed when money comes from our sponsors.
“Okowa did, and that was how we were able to hold the National U-18 and U-20 trials in Kaduna, as well as AFN Golden Leagues in Abuja, Benin City and Uyo. We used the logo of our title sponsor, Premium Trust Bank, in all the competitions as approved by Nilayo Sports Management.
“When we eventually received the money from our sponsor, I refunded to Okowa part of the money he gave us to organise those competitions. Now, the same people (panel members) are accusing me of spending AFN’s money. They said in their report that all the money Okowa gave to AFN was ‘donations’. I can’t understand these people. Over N40 million he lent to AFN to organise competitions”
Mosindi said she was in the meeting held in Okowa’s Abuja residence, adding, “nothing like ‘donation’ was said about the money we begged him to give to us. Okowa even told Gadzama and other board members to bring in money towards the various programmes we had then, but they said they didn’t have money.
“So, where have I gone wrong? Gadzama even told me that I did not protect him when the board wanted to remove him. He said there are consequences, and that he would make sure I am removed as AFN Secretary General.”
She alleged that one of her accusers asked her to use part of sponsor’s fund “to pay his allowances for his trip to the African Senior Championship in Mauritius. That competition took place in 2022 when I was not even part of the AFN.
“Apart from that, the Premium Trust Bank sponsorship money did not cover such competition. When the panel concluded its auditing, Okowa told them that the board would meet soon to deliberate on the reports. Suddenly, Gadzama posted the reports on various social media platforms, and I started receiving calls from athletes, coaches and people from all parts of the world.
“About 20 journalists have called on this issue. You can see that these people are waging a vindictive war against me.”