Super Eagles midfielder John Ogu has apologised for calling on his colleagues to boycott future national team engagements in the wake of the #EndSars protest.
Ogu who has also participated in the protests made the call in the aftermath of the Lekki Massacre where Nigerian security operatives opened fire on peaceful protesters killing up to twelve people across the state according to Amnesty International.
Ogu wrote on Twitter that only children of Nigerian politicians should represent the Super Eagles in future engagements starting with next month’s 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone.
He then reiterated the call in an interview with the BBC.
His intervention wasn’t well received by football authorities, however, with the Nigeria Football Federation hitting back and describing the 32-year-old as “unpatriotic” for his comments.
After initially blasting the NFF, Ogu, who is currently without a club, and last played for the Super Eagles at the 2019 AFCON, has now walked back his initial calls for Super Eagles players to boycott national team assignments.
The former Hapoel Beer Sheva player tended a public apology for his statements, saying he made them “in the heat of the moment”.
“I want to sincerely apologise to Nigerians, the Nigerian Football Federation and the players of the Super Eagles, both past and present and even those dreaming to wear the green and white jersey that I wore with great pride and honour,” Ogu said in a statement released on his Twitter.
“My comments about the Super Eagles boycotting the Afcon qualifiers, was said in the heat of the moment from a place of pain, frustration and anger for the shooting of harmless, flag carrying and national anthem singing Nigerians, at the Lekki toll gate.u
“A national anthem and green and white flag that I have sung and carried all my life with joy and pride. I admit that I crossed the lines, by asking players to boycott the Afcon qualifiers. I have honoured all national team invitations with great joy and delight, with a deep desire to be part of a team that give joy to Nigerians and make them happy, football is the strongest unifying force in Nigeria.
“I wish that my comments that were spoken out of anger and pain would not cause more division in our football and even at a time such as this that the nation needs to pull together. Thank you.”
The player, however, left no doubt about his feelings regarding the Lekki Massacre with government authorities yet to come clean on who ordered the shootings.