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Gabriel Okon steps down for Okowa ahead AFN election, Ebewele disqualified

• Gusau’s faction holds polls in Kebbi

Performance Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Gabriel Okon, will not be part of the new board, when election into the nation’s athletics governing body holds on Monday in Abuja. He allegedly stepped down for one of the presidential aspirants, Tony Okowa, in the race to produce the South South zonal representative, yesterday.

However, there was a twist in the run up to the polls yesterday when immediate past AFN president, Ibrahim Gusau, warned stakeholders against holding or attending the Abuja elections, saying World Athletics (WA) and Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) will only recognize the polls he is organising in Kebbi State.

Though, the South South zonal election will hold today in Benin City, Edo State capital, The Guardian learnt that Okon, a former junior international, who was part of Team Nigeria’s Relay tour of the United States last month, stepped down from the race in the early hours of yesterday.

Several calls by The Guardian to Okon’s mobile phone yesterday were not answered. He also refused to reply to a text message sent to him.

Another current board member, Brown Ebewele, who is AFN Technical Director, will not also return to the board when election takes place on Monday in Abuja.

Ebewele was yesterday disqualified by ACAN/NAATO Electoral committee over his alleged role in the disruption of AFN Representative’s polls conducted in Ilorin, Kwara State on Wednesday.

A release yesterday signed by ACAN President, Coach Godwin Ogogo, and NAATO President, Prof Lucas Ogunjimi, made available to The Guardian, accused Ebewele of using thugs to physically prevent accredited delegates from being checked into the hall by the Electoral Committee in preparation to cast their vote.

“Ogogo and Ogunjimi urged the Electoral Committee to go ahead and conclude the ACAN/NAATO election, which has two other contestants, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama and Solomon Aliu.

Meanwhile, Gusau yesterday announced that any election planned for Abuja will be null and voided in line with the agreement between the World Athletics, Confederation of African Athletics and the AFN.

He said the claim that “World Athletics rejected the amended Constitution of the AFN is false, malicious with the sole intention of scuttling the roadmap for the 2021 AFN elections slated for Kebbi State.

“It is in recognition and acceptance of the amended Constitution that the world body reflected and still has Mr. Siminialayi Young Pepple as the Director General of the AFN, with Gusau as president.”  

He termed the “purported Congress slated for Abuja as a meeting of friends because according to Article 6.1.2 of the 2017 AFN Constitution, only the President of the AFN shall convene the Congress, while Article 19.1 of the 2019 edition states:

The President of the AFN shall convene all Congress Meetings. Hence, any congress not convened by the President will be termed illegal and decisions taken therein will be null, void and of no consequence.”

Gusau wondered why rulings of the High Court and Appeal Court were being flagrantly disobeyed with impunity with the flimsy excuse that the Appeal Court judgment has been appealed against at the Supreme Court.  

“This is very laughable and an affront to the legal system of the country. Those behind the disobedience of court judgments/rulings in the AFN matter will sooner or later be made to face the full wrath of the law to serve as a deterrent to others who see themselves as being above the law,” Gusau added.

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