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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 March 2008, 12:42 GMT
Nigeria champion fisherman jailed
Bello Yakub
Rivals thought the winner was a bit fishy (Pic: Afolabi Sotunde)
The winner of a prestigious Nigerian fishing festival has been stripped of his title and thrown in jail after rivals complained he cheated.

The 66kg (10st 6lb) fish that won the competition in Argungu, in northern Kebbi State, was already dead when it came out of the water, officials said.

Bello Yakub has been arrested and will appear before a magistrate next week.

The monster fish netted him prizes worth $33,000, including a car and a ticket to go on the Hajj pilgrimage.

The gills showed the fish was long dead
The Emir of Argungu

It is thought the fish may have been caught in the much larger Niger River and brought to Argungu, where fishing is banned except during the festival.

"Other fishermen claimed he was not really one of them," the Emir of Argungu, Samaila Mera, said.

"We investigated and found that he couldn't have taken it from the river in Argungu because the gills showed the fish was long dead."

Nigeria's fishing mayhem

The BBC's Hassan Sahabi who was at the festival says this may seriously damage the reputation of an event considered a major tourist attraction in Nigeria.

Mr Yakub had told reporters this was the first time he had won in more than 30 attempts.

"I just hope I can use the prize money for something good," he said.

The festival has been held regularly, along with an agricultural show and other cultural displays, since 1934.

Tens of thousands of fishermen wade through the water, which reaches chin-high in parts, dragging nets along the bottom.

Fish are placed inside a hollowed out calabash - a kind of dried pumpkin.



SEE ALSO
Nigeria fish festival bans fish
07 Dec 06 |  Africa
Whopper wins Nigeria fish prize
17 Mar 08 |  Africa
Country profile: Nigeria
18 Jan 08 |  Country profiles

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