GUNMEN on Thursday, December 7, attacked the Nigerian Premier Football League, NPFL club side, Sunshine Stars, along the Ore-Benin Expressway in Edo state.
The Akure, Ondo state-based team, which edged Shooting Stars Sports Club, 3SC of Ibadan 1-0 in a keenly-contested derby at the Ondo State Sports complex on Wednesday, December 6, fell victim to the unfortunate incident its way to honour its match day 13 fixture against Bendel Insurance of Benin.
The match is billed to be held this weekend.
According to the press release by the club’s media officer, Michael Akintunde, one of the club’s ball boys was shot while other officials were injured.
“It saddens our hearts to inform Nigerians, especially football lovers, that our team was attacked a few minutes ago along Ore-Benin Expressway to honour an Elite League tie against Insurance of Benin, scheduled for this weekend.
“Our ball boy was shot in the horrible attack. Our team manager and other club officials, including players, are seriously injured,” the statement read.
The club added that the officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) helped to rescue the injured officials and the ball boy to a nearby hospital.
However, in a chat with The ICIR, the club spokesperson confirmed that no life was lost, adding that those affected were receiving treatment in hospital.
FG urged to tighten security
In a chat with The ICIR, the Financial Secretary Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, (SWAN) Ondo state chapter, Femi Atolagbe, called on the Federal Government to tighten security on the nation’s roads.
He also urged the Police to bring to book the Sunshine Club’s attackers.
“We have been saying we do not take the security issue seriously on this side of the world. Imagine a team like that, and as we speak, nobody has been arrested. It is unfair.
“We will keep telling the government to do something about security, if it takes them to take some of our top officials outside the country to know how to Police the environment,” he said.
He advised the residents of the communities where such incidents occurred to help the Police gather intelligence to foil uncivil operations.
“We should do more on our intelligence unit because those guys that shot them today, they might have hidden around that area for two to three days, and those living around that side will know them. If we have a very intelligent unit in the form of community policing, security agencies might have been tipped off.
“I will call on the government to do something. As Nigerians, if we see something, we should say it,” he said.
NPFL club owners association condemn attack on club
Similarly, the Club Owners Association bemoaned the attack, attributing it to the poor security on Nigerian roads.
The association’s chairman, Okey Kpalukwu, described the incident as unfortunate.
“The news of gunmen men attacking the Sunshine Stars team came to me as a shock, but we thank God that no life was lost. This has once again brought to the forefront the poor security situation in our country, and something has to be done urgently by our government, especially at this time of the year. Let’s pray for the quick recovery of those injured,” he said.
Kpalukwu stressed that the poor state of the roads contributed to the road users becoming easy targets for hoodlums to perpetuate their dastardly acts.
“One of the major reasons armed men find it easy to attack and kill innocent Nigerians on our roads is because they’re very bad.
“Our major roads are in deplorable conditions, which forces vehicles to move slowly on them. Drivers are most times forced to a halt when navigating the very bad parts of our roads, and hoodlums take advantage of this to kill and maim innocent travellers. Let the government fix our roads to save lives,” he added.
The ICIR contacted the Edo state Police command public relations officer, Chidi Nwabuze, a superintendent of Police. He said he is not aware about the attack.
“My friend. I am far away Abuja on official assignment. But I have not seen or heard of such a report. You said Ore-Benin Road, perhaps, is not within our jurisdiction. Thank you,” he responded via SMS.