NNL vows to punish offenders
Edo Insurance defender Benjamin Tanimu, who suffered a head injury after irate fans attacked the visitors during their Nigeria National League tie against Remo Stars in Ikenne, Ogun State, on Sunday, says they are lucky to be alive after violence erupted during their league fixture, The PUNCH reports.
Trouble began after Insurance goalkeeper, Kolawole Oladapo, got injured in the 96th minute, with Remo about to take a corner kick, but the hosts felt the keeper feigned injury to waste time.
Insurance defender Sarki Ismail was sent off after being handed a second yellow card for picking up the keeper’s gloves. But a statement by Remo Stars said Ismail refused to leave the pitch after his expulsion.
In a video, which went viral on social media, fans encroached the pitch and chased Insurance players out of the stadium.
The helpless players ran past their team bus and jumped the stadium fence as the fans kept pelting them with stones and planks.
“The only thing on our mind was getting to safety after fans encroached the pitch and started chasing us,” Tanimu told The PUNCH.
“We were chased out of the pitch by the fans and players. I was about to jump a fence when I got hit on the head by a big stone. When we thought we were safe, the fans chased us again until we found ourselves in a farm but I’m happy to be alive after the ordeal,” Tanimu added.
Insurance secretary, Charles Ihimekpen, reportedly lost consciousness after a fan hit him on the head with an object.
“I believe I’m very lucky to be alive,” Ihimekpen told The PUNCH.
“They (fans) wanted to hit our player on the head, even when he was already down. So, I covered him and was hit on the head and the back, which was how I got injured. The last thing I remember was entering the club vehicle. When I became conscious, I was at the hotel and receiving treatment,” the former Insurance player said.
However, Remo Stars coach, Daniel Ogunmodede, berated the Insurance players and officials for instigating the violence.
“Insurance have shown that they are all touts, including many of their players and officials because I cannot imagine why they resorted to violence. One of their players was red-carded only for him to refuse to leave the pitch,” Ogunmodede told The PUNCH.
“We had to call our CSO to help us persuade him to leave so that we could continue with the game, but instead of leaving, he slapped our CSO.
“Insurance are not worthy of playing in the NNL not to talk of the NPFL if this is how they earn their points.”
Meanwhile, Chief Operating Officer, NNL, Emmanuel Adesanya, said the league body would ensure that all perpetrators of the violence are brought to justice.
He said, “The management will meet to discuss the violence at Remo venue and two other places where there were ugly incidents. The management will meet and deliberate and make a pronouncement.
“We had reports of ugly incidents in the game involving Calabar Rovers and somewhere in the North, and we are looking into them. Any party found guilty will be punished according to the rules and regulations guiding the NNL.
“What we did yesterday (Sunday), as soon as the reports were flying in, was to ask the match officials and commissioners to send in their reports because there were broken heads, smashed noses and vehicles destroyed. I told them that it was only their spontaneous and quick reports that would help us to take immediate actions so that it will not be dragged on for too long. But Nigerians can rest assured that the violence will not go unpunished because if they go unpunished it will be sending a wrong signal about Nigerians and the league itself. No one is above the law.”