|AFN President, Solomon Ogba|
Dr. Bruce Ijirigho, the consultant to the Cross River state athletics development project, has promised 16-year old Edoki Phabean, a high and long jump athlete, that he will ruin his career and ensure he does not compete for Nigeria.
What is Phabean’s sin? Phabean alongside three other athletes from the state: Benedicta Okorie (Tripple and long jump), Blessing Ofoeneme (400m and 200m) and David Eyo (Discuss and triple jump) went for the D. K. Olukoya athletics championship in Lagos to compete for their state when it was obvious that the state was not going to attend the championship.
The Olukoya event was the basis for the selection to the African Youth Athletics championship. The four athletes on merit qualified to represent Nigeria in Warri.
On return to Calabar, the Cross River state capital, the consultant were angry that the athletes took their own funds to go to Lagos. He demanded for apology from the athletes which he was given.
Phabean and Benedicta had to lose their month’s allowance in addition. When the national camp opened, Ijirigho sent in 12 athletes. Eight were ‘under aged’ and did not compete in the qualifiers and were returned back to Calabar.
Angry and furious, he ordered and was alleged to have paid national team coaches to send the two stubborn athletes out of camp. They had to travel to Calabar from Port-Harcourt to apologise to Ijirigho. The duo returned to Port-Harcourt upon complaints to Maria Woophil, the secretary general, from where they were asked to go back so as to avoid the trouble of Ijirigho making the athletes spend more time on the road than in camp.
Back home, Chief Edoki, Phabean’s 65-year old father took Ijirigho on. Ijirigho lied it was the Commissioner. When Chief Edoki got to the Commissioner, he pointed at Ijirigho. The matter was taken to the Governor’s Chief of Staff who called for a meeting this morning.
As it is, the Nigerian contingent is formed and excluding the two young athletes. To pacify the dad, he was offered money, which he rejected.
Has Dr. Bruce Ijirigho not started destroying the career of the athlete he threatened? We shall update our readers with the further developments in the state. Keep up with us.