…Azania Omo-Agege condems violence

By Kingsley Abavo, Benin

Mr Azania Omo-Agege, member Nigeria Boxing Board.

The 20th National Sports Festival may have ended, but not without the Edo boxing Team earning a battered image, no thanks to extreme rascality of its supporters.

Tuesday, 13 April, 2021 was final of the boxing event but this was not to be as the competition was abruptly halted by action of supporters of the Edo Team.

The most vociferous supporters at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre, venue of the boxing event, suddenly caused panic enthroning violence in suspicion that Edo’s Lydia Uhumwangho would lose to Bayelsa’s Jacinta Umunnekwe in the 81kg category.

Suspecting the decision of the referees may not favour the home team, they invaded the floor, chanting war songs in intimidation of the judges to submit to their wish.

Songs like: ‘Yawa go dey, if Edo nor win, Yawa go dey; ‘kpatakpata we go die today’; ‘Ma ele nokuo’ ( we don’t shy away from battles), amongst others were chanted.

Pleas from security operatives on ground and the home Team Officials for the raving supporters to sheathe their swords fell on deaf ears, as the tensed situation escalated.

The violent Edo Team supporters in rancorous disorder

Every available item in the hall was converted to weapon in the raging madness, causing unfettered destruction of property, and threat to life of those present.

In the ensuing confusion, power within the venue was suddenly cut by unknown persons, which put the whole arena in total darkness and heightened fear of the unknown with everyone running for safety.

Gunshots were fired outside the hall obviously as a message that they were  prepared for war.

Consequently, three fights could not hold on Tuesday night, because of the violence. These include the 91kg bout between Lagos and Ondo states (male), +81kg fight between Ondo and Delta and +91kg bout between Delta and Enugu, which later held on Wednesday, 14 April, the closing day of the festival, in the morning amidst tight security.

Members of Team Edo

A member of the Nigeria Boxing Board, Azania Omo-Agege, in an interview strongly condemned the series of violence that characterized the closing day, particularly that of Team Edo.

“The act of Team Edo in the boxing event is unwholesome and should be condemned in all its ramifications” he said.

“This is because it is against the sportsmanship spirit of the game; wanting to win at all cost is not right.

“When aggrieved, there are laid down procedures to channel any grievance, and not resorts to violence” Omo-Agege concluded.

“Edo is drawing the curtain but I am not happy either, particularly boxing. We all have our own States, next time, other States will be hosting.

“Don’t forget, the Edo boxers will go there to compete. If so, will it be right for them to be beaten up just as they have done to their guests here; it is not proper.”

However, one of the Team Edo coaches, Roland Omoruyi denied the supporters saying: “We don’t know them. They have never been part of the Team right from the preparation stages till now. They were mobilized to the arena by politicians” but he did not mention any name.