Gambian Olympic President charged with theft

Jan 26, 2011

Beatrice Allen, the Acting President of the Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) and a member of the International Olympic Committee, has been arrested and charged with theft.

 The 60-year-old is one of three GNOC officials, along with treasurer Ousman Wadda and accounting officer Muhammed Janneh, who have been accused of embezzling $1,500(Ksh.166,000)from the organisation.

All three were arrested last Friday (January 21) and held in custody until they were bailed on Tuesday.

They have all pleaded not guilty.

Allen is due to appear in court again in the Gambian capital Banjul on February 2, just ten days before controversial elections are due to be held to pick a new President for the GNOC.

Allen took over as President of the GNOC last year when Langtombong Tamba had be replaced after being sentenced to death following his conviction for treason, conspiracy to murder and participating in an act to overthrow the democratically elected Government in 2006.

Elections to decide a permanent replacement for Tamba were postponed by Gambia's National Sports Council last October after allegations of voter fraud.

Next month's election is due to be contested between Alhaji Momodou Dibba, the President of the Gambia Draught Association and former secretary general of the Gambia Football Association, and Abdoulie Baks Touray, President of the Gambia Cycling Association and the former secretary general of the GNOC, a role he had held for 20 years.

Allen has backed Dibba but there has been a major row over who is eligible to vote in the election.

Among those excluded have been Touray, who is also vice-president of the African Commonwealth Games Federation, who Allen claims is not eligible.

Allen, who is a member of the IOC Coordination Commission for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, is one of Africa's most distinguished female sports administrators.

She is also the President of the Gambia Softball Association and was elected as a member of the IOC in 2006, having joined the Women and Sport Commission two years earlier.

Having worked for the United Nations Development Programme for 28 years between 1974 and 2002, Allen has since held a series of high-ranking positions in Gambia.

Her current role is executive director of Trade & Investment Promotion in Gambia.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials in Lausanne are urgently seeking an explanation from the authorities in Gambia.

If they decide that Allen's arrest is politically motivated then they could take action against Gambia as Government interference is not allowed under the Olympic Charter.

Earlier this month they suspended the Gambia's West African neighbour Ghana following a row over the elections to its Olympic Committee.