The Federal Government has withdrawn the corruption case against former leaders of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Shehu Gusau and Sunday Adeleye.
The Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development led by former Minister Sunday Dare had accused Gusau who was then AFN President and Adeleye, the federation’s technical director of corruption in the sponsorship deal with kits makers PUMA.
While Gusau and Adeleye had continued to maintain their innocence, members of the then AFN board led by the Vice Presidentm Olamide George, impeached Gusau and former a different faction with the backing of the sports minister.
The crisis eventually saw PUMA cancelling its contract with the AFN after Nigerian athletes failed to wear the kits at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The sports ministry eventually petitioned the Department of State Services in a letter dated June 3, 2020, a case which the DSS found them not culpable.
In a letter addressed to the sports minister on September 20, 2020, the DSS asked the sports ministry and the AFN board to “employ internal mechanism to resolve the lingering disputes”, as no infractions were found in the partnership entered with PUMA.
“The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) entered into a valid contract with Dynamic Sporting Solutions Nigeria Limited.
“The AFN gave Dynamic Sporting Solutions Nigeria Limited the mandate to source for sponsorship on her behalf in a letter dated 4th September 2018, signed by Ademu A. ELIJAH, Secretary General of AFN.
“The AFN duly authorized Dynamic Sporting Solutions Nigeria Limited to deal with Puma on behalf of the Federation in a letter dated 23rd June 2019, signed by Patrick ESTATE, Head Marketing; and
“There is no evidence that Dynamic Sporting Solutions Nigeria Limited received money meant for AFN from Puma,” the DSS said in the letter.
Not satisfied with the DSS letter, the sports ministry charged both Gusau and Adeleye before a Federal Capital Territory High Court after dragging them before the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
After several years of failing to get any evidence against the duo, the FG eventually sought the permission of the court to withdraw the case.
At the court sitting on January 17 this year, K.A. Fagbemi who represented the FG said, “This matter is for mention today but I have been directed by the Hon Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to withdraw the FIR and in line with section 108 (1) (2) (a) of the ACJA 2015”.
This was not opposed by the defense counsel. Magistrate Celestine Odo in his ruling discharged Gusau and Adeleye.
Gusau and Adeleye also obtained another judgment from the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, ruling that their arrest and invitation by the ICPC was an infringement of their fundamental rights.
The court also barred the ICPC from investigating, inviting or arresting both men over the AFN-PUMA deal having been cleared by the DSS.
“A Declaration is made that the Respondents’ arrest of the 1st Applicant and the subsequent invitation of the Applicant to the Respondents’ office for the purpose of conducting investigation in a matter already investigated by the Department of Security Services and the Nigeria Police Force for which the Applicants has been Charged to Court under the First Information Report is likely to infringe the Applicants’ fundamental right as enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“A Declaration is made that the Respondents’ arrest of the 1st Applicant and the subsequent invitation of the Applicant to the Respondents’ off ice for purpose of conducting investigation in a matter already investigated by the Department of Security Services and the Nigeria Police Force for which the Applicants has been charged in Court under the First Information Report is a breach of the Applicants’ fundamental ight as enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“An Order is made directing the Respondents to forthwith cease any further investigation of the Applicants over the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN)-PUMA DEAL for which the Applicants have been charged in Court in charge No. CR/99/2020 or in the alternative forward the case file of the investigation on the AFN PUMA DEAL to the Nigerian Police Force, who had already investigated the matter and have charged the Applicants to Court.
“An order of perpetual injunction is made restraining the Respondents, either by itself, privies or agents from further investigation, invitation, arresting or prosecuting the Applicants with respect to the alleged Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) PUMA DEAL for which the Applicants have been previously investigated by the Department of Security Services and the Nigeria Police Force and have been charged to Court in charge No. CR/99/2020,” Justice Obiora Egwuatu ruled.
Reacting, Adeleye said the court judgement has again shown that they meant well for the federation and for Nigerian athletes.
“We shall continue to be steadfast until we regain our mandate and get Nigerian athletics back on track,” Adeleye said.