Members of Team Anambra at the ongoing 18th National Sports Festival in Lagos yesterday protested what they called the poor treatment being meted out to them by their state government.
The protesters blocked the roads in and around the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) Games Village where they are accommodated for about an hour, attracting the attention of other state contingents.
They carried placards with various inscriptions some of which read; "Pay us our allowance" and "No allowance, No Peace".
The athletes explained that they were protesting a directive from their camp administrators that those who had finished their events should go home, when they had not been paid their allowances in full.
They claimed that they had been managing to put up with some ill-treatment being meted out to them, including the payment of their "meagre" closed-camping allowance.
Others, according to the athletes, are making them to pay for their medical test bills and surcharging them for the sewing of their ceremonial clothes.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Dr Augustine Emesim, who address the angry athletes, appealed to them to remain calm.
Emesim said that it was regrettable that they were so treated, promising that all their grievances would be addressed. He said that it was not proper for the athletes to be made to pay for any administrative costs, including medicals.
The Permanent Secretary added that the ministry was going to find out the shortfall in their camping and tournament allowances, as against those of the other states and make it up in subsequent competitions.
"Your complaints are noted. We regret whatever inconveniences this has caused you, but government has provided funds for all of them and we will ensure you get what belongs to you.
"It is essentially a communication problem; the arrangement was for those who wished to go.
"You are at liberty to stay back till the end of the festival and we are going to pay before your departure," Emesim assured them.
The permanent secretary appealed to the athletes to go and participate in their events and help to redeem the state's image in sports.
The officials and coaches of Team Anambra had last week complained of the non-payment of their allowances, warning that it could hamper their state's chances at the festival. (NAN)
Meanwhile, Team Anambra has so far won two silver medals and a bronze at "Eko 2012'.