…Miffed CP Promises Investigation, Retribution
The Police Machine FC, a soccer team sponsored by the Nigerian police and champions of the glamorous final of Emir’s Cup in Ilorin, on Saturday, put an ugly dent on the championship finals after the club’s players went on rampage, attacking four journalists, injuring one, smashing a phone and a pair of glasses belonging to one of the newsmen.
Alhaji Owolabi Abdulrasaq Adebayo Wopa, chairman, Ilorin West Football Association and chairman of the Main organizing committee (MOC) of the sports competition was also not spared by the players in the assault by Police Machine who started the fracas after the ending ceremonies of the finals of the competition which the club won.
The players started the fight after accosting Alhaji Wopa outside the main bowl of the stadium, while he was having an interview with selected sports writers requesting to have their price money.
Independent eyewitness account say that the team was non-polite in making the request, despite attempt by the organizer’s attempt to throw friendly banters at them.
“It was like they came with a preconceived grudge to Alhaji Wopa after the match,” explained one of eyewitnesses at the scene of the conflict.
The players had asked the organizer for their money, upon which he responded that such money takes processes before being handed over to teams. Citing practices by FIFA and CAF where prize monies are paid weeks and even months after completion of competition, Alhaji Wopa also told the players and some of their handlers that the organizers are yet to reconcile accounts fully to make payments.
But the Police Machines players would have none of such explanations. Launching into tirades of abuses, they became frenzied even as Jimoh Bashir, Media Officer, Kwara United FC and former chairman, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, who was around at the scene attempted calm some of the players.
In no time, full assault on Bashir was made when one of the police players attempted to have the journalist photographed.
Alarmed, other journalists namely, Abdul Momoh, SWAN, Kwara Ex Officio member and FIFA accredited Photo Journalist, Waheed Bibire, also a former SWAN chairman; Adeyemi Oluwafemi, (Adex Sports) and Victor Michael, the last two being members of the sports writers body, made to form a buffer around their former chairman.
“You neither journalists nor bloggers; why would some random policemen photographed,” asked a flustered Bashir.
This further infuriated the police players. Even threats to have their actions recorded and reported wouldn’t dissuade the irate police players as they fully assaulted the journalists.
Adex, one of the sports journalists, got a clean jab delivered by one of the police players on his face for all his troubles. Michael’s pair of sun glasses got smashed while one of his phones got smashed also in the ensuing snafu.
Explaining his frustration, Alhaji Wopa stated that the police players have not demonstrated the kind of restraint and discipline men of the Nigerian police are known for.
“This wouldn’t be the first time they would be making a scene at this competion,” said Michael, a sports writer and blogger.
He recalled previous instance where himself and Adex almost got beaten by the same police players in the course the competition.
Condemning the action and asking the police authorities to wade into this matter, Ismail Ayodeji, chairman, SWAN, and Dare Kuti, Secretary of the writers association promised to stay on this case to get justice.
“This matter will not go away soon, you can rest assured.
“Journalists are not criminals and we won’t be made a victim while doing our jobs,” they said in a statement.
Olayinka Owolewa, National Vice President, SWAN, also expressed disgust at the conduct of the police.
“We will escalate this matter to the national level,” he vowed.
Reacting, Victor Olaiya, Commissioner of Police, Kwara State Police command expressed sadness at the incident stating that full investigation will be made on the matter.
Speaking through Ajayi Okasanmi, spokesman for the CP, Olaiya stated he got upset after hearing of the matter. “While directing a discreet investigation into the matter and a possible meeting with the assaulted journalists, I want to personally apologize on behalf of the command, and plead that you exercise patience until the incident is investigated and resolved,” Okasanmi said.