Riadha House under 24-hour Police watch to stop siege
Athletics Kenya (AK) officials have enlisted police officers to guard their Riadha House headquarters in Nairobi round the clock to starve off another planned blockade by members of a group that held the building under-siege for 48 hours last November.
Heavy security and guard dogs have kept vigil at Riadha since Monday after it emerged members of the Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK) were plotting to blockade the headquarters and paralyse operations for a second following another simmering row between the two organisations.
PAAK’s Nairobi Organising Secretary, Julius Ndegwa claimed on Wednesday that AK has failed to honour the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) they signed on November 24 last year to end the two-day siege and federation officials have also refused to grant them audience to air their grievances.
Ndegwa who led the invasion added the AK Annual General Meeting held recently did not follow the right procedure in filling the positions left vacant by President Isaiah Kiplagat, Vice–President David Okeyo and former Honorary Treasurer; Joseph Kinyua after their suspension by the IAAF Ethics Commission.
“My list of grievances is long but I shall start with what was agreed in the MoU. So far only the suspension of Kiplagat, Kinyua and Okeyo was implemented and the rest were ignored and they have not even granted us audience.
“It was also agreed that an Interim Committee would be selected to run AK but instead during this year’s AGM Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei was elevated to President instead of remaining as Acting President. Jinaro Kibet and Paul Mutui have also been confirmed as senior vice presidents were confirmed to take over office.
“To date we are in darkness on which criteria was used for them to take over office of people whose cases are still with the IAAF. What will happen when they are cleared and be reinstated back? They just had to look for a back door way to take office without doing elections. This is a violation of the AK constitution, which is not acceptable,” the PAAK official charged.
“All we want as PAAK from them is to change on the voting process instead of it being done by delegates it should be done by members so that we can elect decent and trustworthy people. We shall not be intimidated and we shall not get tired to fight for the rights of the athletes and root out corrupt officials who are still hiding in there,” he added.
Tuwei confirmed they had enlisted help from authorities to stop those who wanted to blockade the headquarters and disrupt the AK National Athletics Championships that will be held on Friday and Saturday in Nairobi to select Kenya’s team to the CAA Africa Athletics Championships in South Africa.
“Everything will go as planned, if one has grievances that they want to express they should kindly follow the right channels. I do not know who this people are! Serious athletes that we know off are busy focusing on Eugene, National Championships and Olympics.
“They do not have time to come and idle around waiting for an opportunity to seize our headquarters. We have hired security to keep the premises and the people working here safe,” the retired Army chief affirmed.
PAAK national Secretary General; Gilbert Kiplom backed up Ndegwa’s claims.
“When they see us around even at Nyayo Stadium they get suspicious of us since they do not know of our movement. On Sunday I tweeted to the AK president and Cabinet Secretary for Sports that AK should be disbanded. I think that’s what made the president suspicious since they had already confirmed themselves in office and are yet to implement our grievances that we raised,” he said.