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Olympic House closed to GNOC staff

Apr 4, 2014, 9:56 AM | Article By: Picture: Alieu .K. Jammeh Youth & Sport Minister and Momodou Dibba GNOC President

Staff who arrived for work on Thursday morning at “Olympic House” were reportedly barred by the paramilitary police on guard, from entering the building, which is the office of the Gambia National Olympic Committee, GNOC.

A worker who was affected told The Point that, “when we arrived at work this morning, we found the PIU (police intervention unit) officers surrounding the building, who told us ‘we have instructions not to allow you to enter, because the new interim committee is coming to take over the premises.”

The move came at a time when both GNOC president Momodou Dibba and GNOC first vice president Beatrice Allen are said to be out of the country.

It also happened less than two weeks after the GNOC held its annual general meeting, on Saturday 22nd March 2014, at the premises in Bakau.

Efforts were made Thursday to reach officials of the ministry of Youth and Sports in Banjul and the GNOC for their comments without success, on this latest development in what the news media has dubbed “the GNOC saga”.

Inauguration of interim committee

It would be recalled that Youth and Sports minister Alieu K. Jammeh, on 9th January 2014, formally inaugurated an interim committee to run the affairs of the GNOC, as well as coordinate the organization of this year’s May Day Sports.

Addressing the committee at the time, Mr Jammeh said the inauguration was the culmination of a long and labourious process his ministry and the National Sports Council had taken to bring sanity to a dispute among the GNOC family, which has affected the running and image of Gambian sports.

“For far too long a time, I sought a negotiated settlement to this impasse to no avail, because certain people have chosen to disregard the dictates of the constitution and mandate of the government to run all sports in this country.

‘‘We have earlier made it clear through press releases that we as a government do not recognize the body that called itself the GNOC, and as such they cannot represent The Gambia in sports missions here and abroad.

“Today’s ceremony is part of that process to sideline this body and get along with work by this new committee, who are willing to serve in the interest of the progress and development of sports,’’ he said.

He added: “Your task is to run all GNOC matters on behalf of The Gambia, as well as coordinate this year’s May Day Sports until a full-fledged board is available.

The May Day sports belongs to workers most of whom come from government departments and that is why we bring together a wide spectrum of representatives from the workers union, among others, to organize the May Day Sports.’’

Since at the time the GNOC bureau members were still using Olympic House, Jammeh said this new body will operate from the Independence Stadium until the decision comes for them to move into Olympic House, which he said belongs to Gambian sports and not to any individual.

Travel Ban

The minister also said a travel ban imposed on the GNOC bureau members, was meant to prevent anybody from representing The Gambia in any sports, unless it was sanctioned by the ministry of Youth and Sports, the regulatory body of all sports in the country. ‘‘We do not want to violate anyone’s right to travel, but one cannot do so as representative of the Gambian sports unless authorized and recognized by the government,’’ he said.

Interim committee membership

A representative of the ministries of Youth and Sports, Interior, Defence, and Trade; the National Sports Council, Chamber of Commerce, PMO, Workers Union, as well as the following individuals: Ebou Faye general manager of the Independence Stadium, Churchill Falai Baldeh, a retired MP, Tombong Saidy a businessman and CEO of AMRA, Aminata Sowe, a banker, and Aminata Dibba of the ministry of Justice in Banjul.

Currently, the interim committee has been busy with the organisation of the May Day Sports, held on Workers Day 1 May of each year at the Independence Stadium in Bakau. The institutions invited have been asked to pay D15,000 as their contribution towards staging the event.