Sports Ministry demands public declaration of NOC Audited account

By Abdulai Santigie Kargbo:

The Ministry of Sports, which has been closely following the utterances and press statements of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) opposing the position of the Ministry on the cancellation of the NOC elections, is demanding that NOC do a public declaration of its audited account.

The Ministry of Sports, as a way of responding to purported statements from NOC, released a press statement that reads thus:

Consequent to the correspondences between the National Sports Council and the Minister of Sports to the National Olympic Committee on the suspended election, the Minister of Sports summoned the Olympic Committee members to a meeting in a bid to salvage the situation.  The Ministry had acknowledged the attendance of the President and Secretary General of NOC to that session.  However, it would like to inform the general public that both the President and Secretary General of NOC at that meeting supported the position of the Ministry and advised that the controversial election be put on hold because of the un-conducive prevailing circumstance.

The Ministry of Sports and National Sport Council are totally disappointed and consider the action of the defunct NOC executive as misleading and unpatriotic.  It is also a clear display of gross insubordination and disrespect for legitimate authority.  The Ministry would take the pain to educate the NOC executive that every sporting discipline is under the direct supervision of the Sports Ministry and the National Sports Council as established by law.

The Ministry of Sports want to enlighten the renegade NOC to know that the Ministry of Sports is mandated by the National Sports Council Act of 1964 with instructions to promote, develop and control sports in Sierra Leone.  Therefore, it is disingenuous for the NOC to say that it is unanswerable to the Ministry of Sports and the people of Sierra Leone.  The NOC should be educated that part 1 section 4(a) of the National Sports Council Act clearly states that the council shall consist of the following, the Prime Minister or his/her representative who shall be president, and sub section (b) states that the Minister shall be Chairman.

The Ministry of Sport is not oblivious of the NOC autonomy in accordance with Section 6 of the NOC Charter, but in any autonomy there are limitations.  But, it should be noted that the same NOC Charter Section 30, 1-2, recognized the sovereignty of every independent state and therefore the NOC is subject to the laws of Sierra Leone.  To substantiate this point, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Mr. Jacques Rogge once said at the World Olympic Sport Convention that sport is not above the law, autonomy for sport must be earned and comes with clear responsibilities, duties and obligations, good governance is a matter of law and Olympic value, we fully respect the rights of public authorities to investigate cases of malfeasance in Sports.

Taking into cognizance of the aforementioned, the Ministry of Sports want the general public to know that the National Olympic Committee is answerable to the people of Sierra Leone and the Ministry, and that they must be accountable and transparent in their operations to the people of Sierra Leone.

The Ministry of Sports want to inform the general public that the Ministry has never interfered into the operations and administration of the NOC, but when the Ministry was inundated with complaints and accusations from within the NOC, therefore it became a necessity for it to intervene and resolve the impasse.  Among the complaints were allegations of stage managed elections that have divided the Boxing Association, the Basketball Association and Swimming Associations.  The Ministry of Sports deems it prudent to promote good sportsmanship and fair-play among NOC members by engaging them to a constructive dialogue.

In addendum to that, the Ministry had received plethora of complaints from these associations accusing the NOC of massive corrupt practices among its executive.  Against that backdrop, the Ministry had requested the NOC to produce its audited account, statement of account, information on the status of its assets and its constitution.  It would be in the public interest to know that the NOC presented only its Constitution and Charter, but surreptitiously refused to submit other transparency related documents to the Ministry.  That could be interpreted as contrary to public accountability and provide room for corruption.

The Ministry of Sports and the National Sports Council are prepared and committed towards promoting ports in every part of Sierra Leone, but would not allow any unpatriotic group intending to mortgage or undermine the spirit of fair-play and good sportsmanship among Sierra Leoneans.  The Agenda for Prosperity is geared towards transparency and accountability in every facet of sporting.

The position of the Ministry of Sports and the National Sports Council on the current controversial NOC executive remain unwavering and derecognized.

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