Sunday, April 24, 2016 11:52 pm
The Centre Referee in the match between hosts Abia Warriors Football Club and Mountain of Fire Ministries (MFM) FC, on Sunday in Umuahia narrowly escaped lynching.
Peter Shinyi escaped being attacked by irate fans at the Umuahia Township Stadium, where the 2015/2016 Nigeria Professional Football League Match Day 13 fixture was played.
He was however shielded from the rampaging fans by men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the police.
The fans were protesting the 89th minute goal scored by Nelson Keledinum of the Lagos-based MFM FC, which they considered controversial and faulty.
The goal came after the referee spotted an infringement against Abia Warriors’ defender Emmanuel Olowo.
He was set to book Olowo and had brought out the yellow card, when MFM quickly took advantage for Keledinum to score.
The goal sparked off agitation among Abia Warriors’ fans, who defied security check and invaded the field after the final whistle, threatening to deal with the referee.
The referee, together with other officials, was then shielded in the middle of the pitch for about 10 minutes by security agents before being led out to the reception hall.
The Chairman of Abia Warriors, Emeka Inyama, personally intervened to ward off physical attack on the officials, and joined in escorting the officials out of the pitch unhurt.
At a point, he lost his cool and slapped a fan who still accosted the referee as he was being led out.
Shinyi and his assistants were safely escorted out of the stadium more than 30 minutes after the match had ended and when tension had subsided.
Uche Ihuanulam opened scores for Abia Warriors in the second minute, while Stanley Okoro scored the second goal in the 55th minute.
Ndifereke Effiong converted a penalty kick in the 75th minute for Abia Warriors’ third goal, after a goal-bound Ihuanulam was brought down by the MFM FC goalkeeper.
In his reaction to the match, coach Fidelis Ilechukwu blamed MFM FC’s defeat on “a lot of lapses”, adding that the players also lacked “proper coordination and organisation.”
Coach Kennedy Boboye of Abia Warriors, in spite of his team’s 3-1 win, expressed reservation over MFM FC’s lone goal, saying it should not have been allowed.