Violence and controversy took centre stage on Match Day 4 of the ongoing Nigeria Professional Football League Championship Playoff fixture between Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos on Monday as supporters invaded the pitch.
Kano Pillars were leading 1-0 before the Flying Antelopes fought back to earn an 87th-minute penalty, which was coolly tucked in by forward Godwin Aguda to earn the Enugu-based side a valuable point as they continued their fight for a continental ticket.
Pillars talismanic midfielder, Rabiu Ali, had broken the deadlock with a trademark curled free-kick in the 58th minute, which beat helpless Rangers goalkeeper Opubo Japhet.
Ali, Pillars’ hero, turned villain immediately after the game, when he accosted referee Adebimpe Quadri and allegedly threatened to beat up the match official for awarding Rangers the late penalty.
Videos of the incidence showed Pillars players trying to hold back the furious Ali, who swore persistently at Quadri, before two stadium security officials intervened and took the ref away.
But Ali wasn’t done yet, as he ran after Quadri — who took to his heels — as the security officials tried to shield him away from the player.
Thereafter, videos showed policemen detailed for the game standing helpless as fans invaded the pitch in their numbers throwing objects and missiles, reportedly injuring several people who came to watch the encounter.
An angry fan, Dennis Erezi Ogheneweware, said Ali should be handed a serious jail term after he alleged that his wife, who was at the match venue, was hit by objects thrown by the irate mob.
He wrote on Twitter, “I swear to God, I will keep cursing Rabiu Ali every day I wake up if this stupid player is not jailed. My wife was struck with a stone and bottle in the head during the match.”
The fans, who were alleged to be Pillars supporters, wreaked havoc for over 20 minutes before the situation was controlled by the stadium security officials, who were slammed for failing to handle the situation professionally.
When our correspondent contacted the League Management Company’s spokesman, Harry Iwuala, he said, “What you saw (Rabiu Ali’s violent conduct) is what happened. The board will sit and come up with a decision on the incident.”
Reacting to the unruly scene at the stadium, a Twitter user, Dumka Lagbara, called on the LMC to discipline veteran Pillars midfielder Ali.
“I am so disappointed with Rabiu Ali. Senior player, Super Eagles player. His conduct after the final whistle emboldened the barbaric Pillars’ fans. He should be handed a hefty ban and Kano Pillars should have some punishment.”