Following the attack suffered by players and officials of the Benin City based Bendel Insurance football club in the hands of irate fans and officials of Remo Stars football club, Insurance players say that had to run into farms to escape from their attackers.
The players, some of whom came up with different degrees of injury, explained that they even had to run past their team’s bus to scale the stadium fence into an adjoining private farm to escape the attack.
One of the players, defender Benjamin Tanimu, who suffered head injury, noted that they were lucky to be alive given the level of violence the Remo fans, spurred on by some of the club’s officials, unleashed on them.
“The only thing on our mind was getting to safety after fans encroached the pitch and started chasing us. 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. I’m happy to be alive after the ordeal,” Tanimu said.
The club’s secretary, Charles Ihimekpen, was not spared as he ended up unconscious from hard knocks he received on his head following his attempt to shield one of his players.
“I believe I’m very lucky to be alive,” Ihimekpen adding, “They 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 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.”
A viral video of the skirmishes, as seen on social media, showed supporters of Remo Stars trooping into the main field in chase of every Insurance player on sight. The video also had instances of some officials of the club joining the fray.
Sources disclosed that event at the stadium took a sour turn after Insurance goal tender, Kolawole Oladapo, got injured in the 96th minute while the Ogun state team was about to take a corner kick. Assuming that the keeper was feigning injury in order to waste precious time, the players and fans went berserk and went after their opponents with bricks, cudgel and every other haulable projectile.
A statement by Remo Stars however, stated that trouble began flowing the refusal of an Insurance player to leave the field after receiving a second booking. Team coach, Daniel Ogunmodede, who berated the Insurance players and officials, insisted his opponents instigated the violence with the player’s refusal to obey a simple football rule.
“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. 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,” Coach Ogunmodede noted.
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 be 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,” Adesanya said.
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