2019/2020 Nigeria League: One Season Too Many Tragedies

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What more can we say about the 2019/2020 football season in Nigeria after ending on a yet another inconclusive note albeit due to Covid-19 pandemic.

While Covid-19 has caused the worst to football in the world, the 2019/2020 season as short as it was characterised by a lot of tragedies in Nigeria’s case.

Not so interesting to remember, five players are now sleeping under the earth surface, an astute football administrator is also about to be buried while vote of thanks continue to rule from another angle after a release from kidnapper’s den.

Late Tiamiyu Kazeem (Kaka)

The first of the tragedy struck in Sagamu, Ogun State, where Tiamiyu Kazeem was killed on Saturday, 22nd of February after he was hit by an oncoming car.

He was reported to have being pushed out of a SARS vehicle conveying him to a police station on allegations of being a “Yahoo Boy” (internet fraudster) despite the player having proved his identity to the operatives.

The aftermath of the unfortunate incident caused another protest in Sagamu where about three people were again reportedly killed by policemen trying to put the restless citizens under control.

While reports show that the officers who killed him, Olaniyi Ogunsoro, a Special Anti-Robbery Squad officer has been dismissed, the general public awaits a more pronounced justice for the untimely death of the Remo Star FC Player.

Late Chineme Martins

Yet again after that, the league structure failed another promising
Nigerian footballer, Chineme Martins, 23. He died after he collapsed during a game for his club Nasarawa United on the 8th of March, 2020.

Martins fell unconscious, unopposed, during the second half of Solid Miners league match against Katsina United and was later pronounced death in the hospital.

That his death has forced the League Management Company to be strict on it medical set up of clubs, many called for an autopsy to be conducted to determine the cause of his death.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would later constituted a panel to look into the circumstances surrounding his death. He has later buried on 5th of June, 2020 in Abia State.

Just after the Lafia incident, two Enugu Rangers’ players and one of their friends died in a ghastly auto crash. The players, Ifeanyi George, who is a top striker in the senior team, and Emmanuel Ogbu, who plays in the junior team and another friend of Ifeanyi, met their untimely death on their way to Lagos on March 22nd at Abudu, a boundary community between Delta and Edo State.

Late Ifeanyi George

Sequel to Ifeanyi’s death, the Enugu State Government paid an amount of #20 million to his family as his life insurance.

Too much to ears, few hours of Ifeanyi’s death and his friends, Dayo Ojo of Enyimba FC and Benjamin Iluyomade of Joy Cometh FC fell into the hands of gunslingers while returning home from team camp in the wake of the Nigeria Professional Football League’s suspension owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Dayo Ojo of Enyimba

The incident which took place along the Benin-Owo expressway saw the duo of Ojo and Iluyomade taken away. Emmanuel James, another in the car had escaped the attack. Both of them were later released three days after their abduction when ransom has been paid.

After the abduction, the Chairman
Nigeria National League, NNL Chidi Ofor was pronounced dead at the age of 50, by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Late Chidi Ofor

According to a statement from the NFF, Ofor, who had been battling with leukemia, died in a private hospital in Enugu after collapsing in the early hours of Tuesday, 5th of May, 2020.

He is expected to be buried at the end of this week.

While the Enugu State Government needs to be commended for the life insurance paid to Ifeanyi George’s family, Tiamiyu’s death is still begging for a proper justice as the dismissal of the police officer could not provide the needed impression that can erase the grief occasioned by his unlawful death.

We also expect the results of the committee set up by the NFF to look into Chineme’s death and hope that a strong position would be effected on clubs to meet up with medical standards in the coming season. Likewise, a life insurance to his family by Nasarawa State Government wouldn’t be a bad thing. He deserves it.

For the umpteenth time, nothing much again but to wish Honourable Chidi Ofor an eternal rest and hope for a better, stronger and a prosperous football season as the league is tentatively scheduled to commence by September/October.

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