Ekiti State athletes to the 2018 National Sports Festival yesterday protested against the alleged fraud by the leadership of the Sports Council, claiming that they pocketed N5 million out of N7 million approved by the state government for the fiesta.

The protesting athletes locked up the main gate of the Kayode Oluyemi Stadium in Ado Ekiti, preventing people from gaining entry, and also chased out state officials from their various offices.

One of the athletes who spoke with journalists on condition of anonymity claimed that the negotiations on the funds to be released between state government and the sports council officials had been on for long.

“It started from N32 million to N19 million, and they eventually agreed on N7 million. But they are now telling us that the state government approved only N2 million for the sports festival. We have been preparing for the festival for about three months now. Some of us came from the local government area to prepare for the festival.”

The general manager of Ekiti State Sports Council, Deji Samo, said the athletes were being sponsored for the protest for personal interests.

Samo dismissed the athletes’ allegations saying: “We have sent our file to the governor. We are expecting his response.

“It is when we get approval for fund that we will know how many of the athletes will go for the games. We will like to go to the competition with our medal hopefuls.

“Because of funds, we had to put the athletes through open camp. They have been preparing. All I know is that we are going to the games in Abuja and we will make the state proud.”

It was learnt yesterday that about 150 athletes were earlier scheduled to represent Team Ekiti at the sports festival, but 30 of them might be dropped due to paucity of funds.

“We have been to the Governor’s office last week Friday and they assured us that funds will be made available for our participation,” an official said.

“Going by the amount released, the athletes will have to make do with 3,000 naira per day for the 10 day event. Even the bus to convey us to Abuja is yet to be repaired.”

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