The Nigeria National League (NNL), National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers (NANPF) and Taraba Queens coach Christopher Nee have condemned the violent protest that marred Saturday’s NNL fixture between FC Taraba and Kaduna United at the Jolly Nyame Stadium in Jalingo.
Some fans, players and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Sports Development Solomon Elisha reportedly sustained injuries from the fracas.
Trouble started at the match venue when aggrieved ex-players of FC Taraba stormed the pitch and disrupted proceedings in protest against the Taraba State Government’s failure to pay the 24 months’ salaries that they are being made owed.
The Taraba State Government had earlier disbanded FC Taraba and Taraba Queens last year after both teams blocked the gate to the Government House so as to force government to pay them only for the state government to turn around and register FC Taraba for the 2017/18 NNL without settling the disbanded players.
The development prompted the decision taken by the former club players.
While speaking on the unfortunate situation, Taraba Queens coach Christopher Nee criticised the players and also blamed the state government.
In his words via Punch, Nee said: “The normal thing to do before disbanding a team is that you must clear the salaries and allowances owed players and even pay them three months off.”
“Unfortunately the state government went ahead to disband the team and formed a new one without clearing the salaries of the players of the former team.
“The NFF is aware of these guidelines, so I don’t know why they allowed the registration of a new team without first resolving the issues involving the state government and the former players.” he concluded.
A player of the new FC Taraba team anonymously narrated what transpired on the pitch as he said: “The protesters in their numbers forced themselves into the pitch and started attacking people. The police tried to stop them but they turned against the police.”
“The police had to defend themselves too and it was in the process that one of the officers hit a protester with his gun and he fell unconscious. It was this incident that made others ran away.” he added.
NNL Spokesman Amar Ignis while talking about the situation said the body is still awaiting an official report on the incident.
He said: “The league body does not work with heresies rather we are still waiting on the report from the match commissioner.”
“However, the league body is not to be blamed for the incident because it is already public knowledge that the government of the state is indebted to some former players.
“Before the start of the season, the NNL wrote to the club to settle the players before they would be registered for the season and the club gave their words that they would be done before the season started. It is however unfortunate that they failed to do that.” he stated further.
In a statement by its Assistant General Secretary Danladi Musa, NANPF condemned the incident. The statement said: “In the first instance, the registration of the team for the season is unjustifiable, a breach of football and league rules. It came as a rude shock to the union when FC Taraba’s name appeared as one of the teams to participate in the league this season.”
“The union wrote to the NNL to stop them from registering the club due to the debt owed the ex-players but the NNL responded that their business was to register teams to play and not to get involved in disputes between players and clubs.” the statement read.