World Athletics confirms Okowa-led AFN, reject Gusau board

We recognised Abuja election, says WA

THE World Athletics has confirmed Tonobok Okowa as the officially recognised President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, The PUNCH exclusively reports.

WA confirmed Okowa’s choice in an email to our correspondent.

“World Athletics has received information from both elections and based on the information provided, we are now working with the board elected in Abuja.

“The meeting in Abuja was attended by the most voting members plus the National Olympic Committee, and is the board with whom the National Olympic Committee dealt with for the purposes of entering its team to the Olympic Games,” WA Head of Communications, Nicole Jeffery, said in a statement sent to The PUNCH.

World Athletics’ declaration puts an end to the leadership crisis that has rocked the AFN since 2019, which led to parallel elections in Abuja and Kebbi on June 14, which produced Okowa and incumbent Gusau as presidents.

It was further learnt that before the official recognition of Okowa as AFN president by WA, the global athletics body had sent the password for the official email of the federation and correspondence between both bodies to his camp. The Gusau-led group was previously in custody of the password.

“It is World Athletics’ standard practice to revoke all access at the time of a Member Federation election until the new office-bearers are confirmed. In the case of Nigeria, we are still verifying the information we have received about the two elections,” WA said in the email.

In 2019, former AFN vice president Olamide George led other board members to impeach Gusau (in his first term), but the Abuja High Court and Court of Appeal ruled in Gusau’s favour as president of the country’s athletics body, until WA and Confederation of African Athletics directed that elections must hold latest June 14, where Gusau and Okowa returned as factional presidents.

While Okowa has continued to enjoy the backing of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, he also led the AFN delegation to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Okowa-led AFN also presented Nigeria representatives for the WA U-20 Athletics Championships, which begins in Nairobi Kenya on Wednesday.

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