COVID-19 Halts NFF Investigative Panel’s Work Plan

Posted on March 24, 2020

The directives of the Federal Government on the raging coronavirus outbreak has altered the work plan of the investigative panel set up by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on the death of Nasarawa United FC player, Chineme Martins.

The panel was expected to submit its final report on Thursday, 26th March, 2020 to the Hon. Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, in Abuja.

However, following the current trend of events arising from the Covid-19 scourge, the panel has temporarily suspended its activities, including submission of its final report.

This change in work plan has also been approved by the NFF leadership.

“Since the inauguration of this committee in Benin City on Monday, 16th March, members have been at work. We have inspected facilities in Benin City and Lafia, and spoken to personalities who were involved one way or the other in the organization of the match in which the player died. We have been able to extract useful information all round. Our plan was to submit the report to the Hon. Minister on Thursday, 26th March 2020.

“We returned from Lafia on Tuesday morning, but have had to change our plans because of the trend of events and the pronouncement by His Excellency Mr. President himself, as well as other directives by the Federal Government. We are forced to suspend our activities,” chairman of the committee, Dr. Peter Singabele said.

Singabele added that if the committee had a challenge in its job, it was the risk that members took to interact with people at this trying period in Nigeria.

“I won’t say strictly that there were challenges. If there was a challenge it was that we took a big risk moving around at this time. We were bound to hold meetings and meet people and we could not tell who was infected at any time.

“We just have to observe preventive measures by returning to our homes and continuing to work from there.”

The panel also assured members of the football family its findings and recommendations would be submitted as soon as the current health challenge is under control.

Meanwhile, the NFF on Monday called on all members of the country’s football family including stakeholders to pray hard in view of recent deaths and kidnappings of football players which have caused serious concern in the polity.

President of the Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick said the deaths of three footballers in a horrendous auto crash along Benin-Agbor Road on Sunday, among them Rangers International FC star forward Ifeanyi George, and the kidnappings of Enyimba FC’s Dayo Ojo and Abia Comets’ Benjamin Iluyomade in Ondo State some hours later were huge causes for concern in Nigeria’s football firmament.

“These sorrowful incidents are becoming too much for us to bear. We must seek spiritual solace and seek help from Almighty God. I am short of words following these deaths and kidnappings. We must all get involved in prayers to Him to stop the tap of grief and sorrow in our football sector.

“I am heartbroken. Not long ago, we lost Tiamiyu Kazeem of Remo Stars Football Club and Chineme Martins of Nasarawa United in different circumstances. We need to call on God to show us mercy and stop these unfortunate happenings.”

George, a former Home-based Eagles star who featured for Nigeria at the 5th African Nations Championship in Morocco early in 2018, died in a car crash alongside Emmanuel Ogbu, a player of Rangers International Feeder team and Eteka Gabriel, also a football player. All were in a car that ran under a stationary trailer on the Benin-Agbor Road.

Some hours later, in Ondo State, Enyimba FC of Aba’s Dayo Ojo and Abia Comets’ player Benjamin Iluyomade were reported kidnapped in the Owo area of Ondo State.

“We also earnestly appeal to the kidnappers of Dayo and Benjamin to release them unhurt to their families. We are going through too much at the same time, with the coronavirus pandemic also around. We need serious prayers from everyone in the football family,” Pinnick added.  

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