Three Nigerian sports journalists who were denied the opportunity to cover the just ended 16th IAAF World Championships in London by the United Kingdom High Commission in Lagos want their international passport returned to them immediately.
The journalists Messrs Esan Oludare of Complete Sports, Tunde Eludini of Premium Times and Charles Ogundiya of New Telegraph also appeal to the international sporting community to strip Britain of any hosting rights granted it as well as stop future award of such rights.
“It is unbelievable that the United Kingdom High Commission could toy with the emotion and passion of Nigerians who have been denied adequate and proper coverage of the championships,” Esan who is the editor of Complete Sports and has covered eight editions of the championships said.
“Some of us applied as early as the first week of June while I applied on July 4, 2017.The Local Organising Committee for the championships advised us in an email that we should apply not later than July 7, 2017 so that we could get our visas issued before the 29th of July.
“The Championships held from August 4 to 13. As I am talking to you now, the message on my visa application as tracked on the UK Visa Application Centre in Nigeria (Lagos - Ikeja) website this (Wednesday August 16, 2017) morning is that my application is still waiting for a decision to be taken.
“It reads thus: Your application is now with UK Visas & Immigration for a decision. If this is not ridiculous, I wonder what that message connotes, coming a clear three days after the championships ended.
Ogundiya on his part want Britain to be stripped of all rights to host international championships and Games as he hinted that the journalists could consider legal options if the passports are either tampered with and/or are not returned on time to enable them use for other international competitions.
Ogundiya who writes for New Telegraph said: “It is obvious they are not ready to accommodate people who have gone through strict security checks before they were issued accreditation cards. And for crying out loud we are journalists who have legitimate rights to cover the championships in London.
“The United Kingdom agreed not to deny people who have been accredited for the championships the right to participate either as athletes, officials or journalists before they were granted the hosting right for event. It is crystal clear now that they fooled the IAAF.
“'The return leg of the Nigeria versus Cameroun 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier is in early September in Yaounde and now we cannot plan towards covering it because the UK High Commission is still waiting to take a decision on our application for visa for a championships that ended few days ago. We hope the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take up this matter as it is not only a slap on Nigeria but a total disregard for us as human beings.”