The Ministry of Youth and Sports has dismissed reports of using ‘deceptive influence’ in resolving the leadership crisis in the Liberia Basketball Association (LBA) and has assured stakeholders of the elections on Saturday, August 8.
The Ministry clarified that FIBA Afrique has never written them to either set-up a caretaker committee or an interim leadership to steer the basketball leadership as was alleged by K-Delta female basketball owner, Abraham Samukai.
Deputy Sports Minister Henry B. Yonton, Jr. told the Daily Observer yesterday in an exclusive interview in Monrovia that Mr. Fred Pratt, a former Secretary General of the LBA who is currently serving as a member of the Youth Development Committee of FIBA-Afrique disclosed to the
Ministry text messages between him and the President of FIBA-Afrique Zone III Samuel Abuola suggesting the establishment of a caretaker committee.
“Upon seeing the text messages, I told Mr. Pratt to tell the Zone III president to officially write the Ministry on what he suggested and unfortunately, the mandate is yet to come from the Zone III president or FIBA Afrique,” Minister Yonton said.
He added “I was taken aback when Mr. Abraham Samukai said the Ministry was written – we were never written since we wrote FIBA Afrique to intervene, including a verbal instruction to Mr. Pratt to tell the Zone III president to write us – we were never written.”
A week ago, Mr. Samukai accused the Ministry of ‘deception’ indicating that FIBA Africa contacted the Ministry to find out if something had been done to resolve the LBA leadership crisis.
According to reports, AFIBA Africa wrote: “Is there a federation on the ground? Or is it a caretaker committee? Is the Ministry of Sports running the federation?”
The second recommendation to the Ministry of Youth & Sports from AFIBA Africa said: “What your ministry can do is to hold an election or set up a caretaker committee and write to AFIBA Africa and the Zone immediately….”
Minister Yonton said, the so-called revelation from Samukai was wrong and misleading and pointed out that Mr. Pratt is a prime witness.
When contacted Mr. Pratt yesterday via mobile, who is also serving as the Assistant Secretary General of the Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC) confirmed sharing the text messages between him and the Zone III president with Deputy Sports Minister Yonton and Mr. Samukai.
“It was true that Zone III president text whether there was a federation on the ground? Or a caretaker committee? And if the Ministry of Sports was involved in running the federation?” Mr. Pratt said.
“It was also true that he suggested that the ministry can either hold an election or set up a caretaker committee and write to AFIBA Africa and the Zone immediately….”
“But that was text messages between me and the Zone III president – who is a friend – but it was not an official mandate from either the Zone III or FIFA Africa – it was just a casual lecture between two friends,” Pratt said.
Howbeit, Minister Yonton has assured stakeholders of elections on Saturday, August 8, as enshrined in the MOU.
He said two weeks ago, 22 club presidents wrote the Ministry thanking her about the MOU and committed themselves to the elections.
“If four or five clubs, who still believe they are aggrieved, there will be election as scheduled, so we want to urge them to join the wagon in the name of peace and the future of the Liberian youths,” Minister Yonton said.
The Minister’s comment stemmed from a report that the aggrieved stakeholders would not honor the election.
Mr. Calvin Diggs of the Flames basketball team said, Mr. Samukai isn’t part of the aggrieved party because he isn’t a president, but Minister Yonton said Mr. Samukai since the rigmarole as of January has been considered the ringleader owing to his involvement.
It may be recalled that on June June 3, a MOU was signed between the aggrieved party – and the LBA leadership – Rufus Anderson and about reaching a ‘common ground’ for the holding of elections which were postponed four times.
The LBA, according to the MOU on the 1st of July, set up a three-man election committee, headed by former Secretary of the Liberian Senate, Yanqueh Borsay.
As of the 3rd of July, the distribution of congressional documents is ongoing and according to the guideline, included in the congressional documents, stakeholders would begin registration to contest the election.
Since January 2015, the LBA and the aggrieved stakeholders have been fighting over “constitutional crisis” and embezzlement of US$15,000 following the hosting of a West Africa basketball tournament in Monrovia and questions were also raised on the expenditure of U$70,000 provided by the Liberian government.