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April 14, 2004

Deaf Athletes Protest

From: - Africa - Apr 14, 2004

P.M. News (Lagos)

April 14, 2004

About 100 deaf and dumb athletes have sealed off the two gates leading to the National Stadium, Lagos, to protest their exclusion from next month's National Sports Festival in Abuja.

Lukman Agbabiaka, Secretary of Nigeria Deaf Sports Federation (NDSF), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the athletes took on the action to protest the decision to exclude their sports from the festival.

"We decided to close the gate of the stadium to let the public know that we have been excluded from taking part in the sports festival because we are deaf and run our own federation," Agbabiaka added.

According to him, NDSF held a meeting with the Director of Sports Development, Chief Patrick Ekeji, and other top officials of the Sports Ministry and were told that the "number of medals for the festival had been decided and deaf sports was not included".

"After our peaceful demonstration in Lagos, we intend to stage another one in Abuja during the sports festival to ask for our rights, not minding our disabilities," Agbabiaka said.

NDSF Head Coach, Elezon Benjamin, also told NAN that the federation wrote to the Sports Ministry to allow them take part in five events in track and field and table tennis.

"The athletes came from various states of the country. The exclusion of deaf sports from the festival may lead to some of them losing their jobs, as many of them work with state sports councils," Elezon said.

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