By G9ija

The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development on Wednesday in Abuja responded to a letter of petition received from some special athletes.

The special athletes protested the exclusion of their sports from the upcoming National Sports Festival on Wednesday.

The athletes, who carried placards in protests in Lagos, promised to “block all federal roads and the National Stadium complex” if they fail to get a response to their demands.

However, in a response to the petition, Mohammed Manga, Director of Press of the Ministry, noted that the Ministry had always been concerned about special athletes.

Manga, in a statement on Wednesday, outlined some of the efforts by the Ministry to ensure the inclusion of the athletes in its programmes.

He said: “One of them is the setting up of a special department for Para Sports in the Ministry.

“Another is the organisation of the first National Para Games in April 2022 where 16 para sports were competed for by teams from 21 states, as well as some clubs, at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.

“We have also ensured there was no discrimination in the treatment of athletes, able or special, in terms of welfare, camping conditions, remuneration and other areas in all international competitions.”

The Ministry official, who described the protests as unfortunate, advised the athletes to channel their grievances appropriately instead of disturbing public peace.

Manga added: “The Ministry, hereby, urges and advises against any further disruption of public peace and calls on anyone with complaints to channel them through the appropriate authorities and seek the path of dialogue.

“Hindering the right of other citizens to free movement is unlawful and unacceptable, especially after the earlier engagements of the Ministry’s liaison officer in Lagos and other well-meaning sports personalities.

“The Ministry further urges the relevant security agencies to handle the situation at hand with care and in accordance with the law.”

The 2022 NSF, which is the 21st edition, is scheduled to hold from November 28 to December 10 in Asaba, Delta State.