October 21, 2014 – Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia, has called on the League Management Committee (LMC) organizers of the on-going Glo Professional Football League to monitor closely, the activities of referees and clubs to ensure that only the best teams qualified to represent the country in the 2015 continental campaign.
In a statement released by the club’s media officer, Mr. Igwe Onuoha after the Warriors lost 1-2 to Lobi Stars of Makurdi at the Emmanuel Akume Atongo stadium Katsina-Ala, Benue State in one of the week 34 encounters, the Umuahia based outfit noted that the team could not have lost the game if the referee had not succumbed to intimidation by the home fans.
Onuoha wondered why the centre referee, Hamza Garba from Kano State disallowed a 14th minute goal they netted from a corner-kick which would have unsettled the home side.
In his reaction, the Technical Adviser of Abia Warriors FC Ladan Bosso said he has never seen a situation like that before where such a goal is disallowed.
“My striker (Onyekachi Peter) had nodded in a free header into the net from a corner-kick and the AR II (the 2nd Assistant referee) had already acknowledged the goal by running towards the centre but to everyone’s surprise, the centre referee disallowed it “he said.
He stated that if the goal had stood, the match could have gone Abia Warriors way. “The referee’s decision demoralized my boys and made them to lose concentration which allowed Lobi to score two goals. Their goals were good goals but why did the referee disallow our own good goal? After all Lobi scored first in Umuahia before we rallied to win so there is nothing wrong about conceding first at home” he said.
According to him, the referee must have succumbed to the intimidation from the Lobi supporters who had threatened to deal with the officials if the team failed to win.
The threat started from the morning hours when the pre-match meeting had to be stopped severally due to the threat coming from the supporters who had thronged the venue but the Benue State Football Association had assured everyone of adequate security.
At half time, the referees refused to go into the tunnel because of the tense atmosphere inside the dressing rooms and it took several minutes of plea from Lobi Stars’ Chairman and Technical Adviser, Dominic Iorfa for the referees to go into their dressing room.
But Abia Warriors players and officials were not allowed by the home supports to enter their dressing room. The irate fans, aided by some Lobi Stars players had blocked the Warriors midway and even beat some players like Wasiu Showomimo, forcing the visitors to come back to the pitch where they rested before the second half began.
Abia Warriors believe this kind of desperation by teams should be checked by the LMC particularly now that the league is nearing its conclusion so that only the best will qualify to represent Nigeria in International competitions next year.