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Scrabble: Akwa Ibom bars 9 players from Akpabio Classics

*Jerks up prize money

By Patrick Omorodion

The Akwa Ibom Scrabble Association has asked nine scrabble players at ‘war’ with the national body, the Nigerian Scrabble Federation, NSF to stay away from its annual Godswill Akpabio Classic scheduled for Uyo from September 9-11, 2011.

Chairman of the Association, Bassey Okon Bassey  Okoridem, in a statement circulated to the scrabble family Friday said the players, whose unbanning after they were earlier banned by the NSF Board is causing ripples within the scrabble, could pose a security threat to the scrabble tournament.

He stated that reports reaching his office in Uyo have it that some group of players who have registered for the Opens Category in the tournament are planning a protest march during the Opening Ceremony if the unbanned players are allowed to participate.

According to Okoridem, the Opens players view the decision to allow the unbanned players “as a threat to the game in Nigeria, as no due process was followed to the letter in unbanning them. Records have it that, when a player is suspended, to get back into the system, he has to first comply by whatever caused his suspension, show remorse by apologizing, the board will meet, consider the case before granting amnesty.”

He therefore warned the nine players namely Chinedu Okwelogu, Wellington Jighere, Eta Karo, Seidu Ayorinde, Deniss Ikekeregor, Prince Omosefe, Cyril Umebiye, Venayori Kinga and Emmanuel Umujose to stay away from the venue of the tournament and await the refund of their registration fee.

“For security reasons and for a usual hitch_free tourney, I want to categorically warn that,t he 9 so_called unbanned players who must have paid their registration fee, should arrange to get a refund and not turn up at all for the event,” Okoridem stressed.

He however dropped a piece cheering news to players registered for the tourney usually graced by Governor Godswill Akpabio, whom the tournament is named after, an increment in the prize money for all the four categories.

According to him, the Opens Category champion will take home N2 million, Intermediate Category winner will earn N900,000 while the winners in both the Opens and Veteran Categories are expected to get N600,000 each.

Explaining that “other prices shall be reviewed accordingly,” the chairman said that the increment was as “as a result of the expectation we envisage in the increase in the money given by sponsors.”  He added that registration for the Opens Category has been extended to Monday, September 5, 2011.


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