Medal scandal: Culprits must be punished, insist stakeholders


By Johnny Edward.

Stakeholders in the sports sector have insisted that those found guilty in the gold medal padding scandal at the 21st National Sports Festival in Asaba, Delta State last month must face the law, SUNDAY PUNCH reports.

The sports ministry on Friday received the report of the committee set up to review complaints by some states at the NSF over the issue.

The sports minister Sunday Dare, who received the report in his office in Abuja, stated that the committee was set up to determine the shortfalls in the computation of the medals, as well as establish the exact and correct result with a view to putting an end to the complaints.

Dare did not reveal whether sanctions would be imposed on those involved in the medal padding, but some stakeholders say the law should take its course after proper investigations.

Hosts Team Delta emerged as the overall winners of the competition with 648 medals comprising 320 gold, 200 silver and 128 bronze medals.

Team Bayelsa clinched the second position with 337 medals, 132 gold, 115 silver and 90 bronze with Team Edo finishing third with 339 medals, 78 gold, 94 silver and 167 bronze.

But there was confusion barely a month later when it was discovered that there were two more final medals table after the first, after some state officials protested vehemently that gold medals were added to some states’ haul, which they didn’t win.

In a chat with SUNDAY PUNCH, Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Chris Green, stated in clear terms that anyone found guilty must face the law.

“The committee has submitted their report to the ministry, I’m yet to see it, so I can hardly comment on that at the moment.

“But they (ministry) know what should be done to the perpetrators, they should face the law,” Green said.

Ogun State Sports commissioner, Oluwadare Kehinde, said, “I think the best thing to do is to properly investigate and until that is done it will be wrong to comment on a matter that I don’t have full knowledge of. But I’m sure there will be a law in place for such acts. But for now, no proof against anyone yet, so a thorough investigation is needed now.

“Since the committee has submitted their report, the ministry must properly investigate the matter and afterwards I think should take it’s fully course.

President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Tonobok Okowa, who also doubles as the Chairman, Delta State Sports Commission, added that the ministry should decide the culprits’ fate.

“Whatever needs to be done, the ministry will do the appropriate thing and I want us to allow them decide that.”
Meanwhile, Dare has expressed dismay over the level of insinuations and allegations going round, as well as attacks on the ministry, its staff and the integrity of the festival.

A statement signed by the sports ministry’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Mohammed Manga, Director, sports ministry, quoted Dare as saying, “There is no system anywhere in the world that is perfect. When issues are raised, the system should be allowed to respond to it accordingly.

“No one can run the ministry for us, NSF is borne by the sports ministry, if something is wrong with it, we will fix it, we will not be blackmailed into doing it.”

Dare described the NSF as the Nigerian Olympics and called on those involved in the fraud to desist from such acts, saying the ministry would take all the administrative steps to ensure that the festival maintained its credibility, both at local and international levels.

“We will fix the medals table based on the report submitted and release it to the public accordingly,” he said.