20th December, 2010
By Cyriacus Izuekwe
This is the story ofÂ 21-year old Ismaila Sanni, a die-hard Manchester United fan in Nigeria, who was shot dead by policemen while watching a Premier League match between his darling club and Arsenal at a viewing centre around his neighbourhood at Alaba Amukoko, South West, Lagos, Nigeria.
Ismaila, until his death, ate, slept, dream and drank Manchester United and therewas no information or question asked about the Red Devils that the late auto mechanic was found wanting.
The late Ismaila was an introvert as he was rarely seen outside his house except when the Sir Alex Ferguson and his team were playing and he always went to the viewing centre clad in his replica Manchester United jersey.
Information available to P.M Sports revealed that he arrived the viewing centre in high spirits and expectations that the club that he lived and died for were going to topple Arsenal, who before the match kicked off, were the table toppers with a point difference.
Despite the fact that the club eventually toppled Arsenal he never lived to celebrate the victory with the other fans, but even in death, he would be celebrating with other Manchester United fans, who had passed on.
Friends and relatives described the deceased as an easy going person, who can neither kill a fly nor hurt anyone. His demise has left a gap in the Manchester United fraternity in Alaba Amukoko.
They said whenever Manchester United wins a match he would celebrate as if the owners of the club know about his passion for them. His close pals stated that if Manchester United loses any match as well he would go home sulking over the defeat.
The late Ismailaâ€™s love and passion for United was unquantifiable as findings revealed that he had an insatiable taste for the team.
Cases of police indiscriminate killing of football fans has been going on unchecked in the country.
A Nigerian fan wasÂ killed after clashes ensued following the victory of English champions Chelsea over Spartak Moscow during a UEFA Champions League.
It would be recalled that a report by the News Agency of Nigeria had it that the fan was killed in Gokana, Rivers State in the Niger Delta region.
The Rivers State Police Command confirmed the death and said that some houses were burnt in the area where the incident occurred.
Police spokeswoman, Rita Abbey, said that youths from B-Dere and K-Dere communities of Gokana clashed while watching the match.
She said the youths disagreed on the 2-0 outcome of the match in favour of Chelsea. Abbey said the two communities had in the past clashed over a piece of land and that the outcome of the UEFA Champions League match escalated the crisis.
â€œExisting mobile police presence in the area reinforced to bring the crisis under control,â€ Abbey said. One person was killed and the police arrested five.
A huge number of Nigerians keenly follow European football. Six persons lost their lives in Ahoada Local Government of Rivers in 2009 when Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League.
A bus driver who was a supporter of the losing Manchester United, rammed his vehicle into a group of Barcelona fans celebrating the 2-0 win, killing six.
In a related development, gunmen ambushed a busload of football fans travelling to watch a match in southern Nigeria and killed at least six in an apparent revenge attack, police and local officials said.
The supporters were travelling from Yenegoa in Bayelsa State to neighbouring Delta State. Local officials said the execution-style killing appeared to be in retaliation for a nightclub shooting in Yenegoa a day before.
â€œThe fans coming to Delta were ambushed and shot. Eight were killed and seven were injured and are in hospital,â€ Delta State police spokesman, Charles Muka, said.
A senior Bayelsa State government official, who visited the scene, said he had seen six bodies being taken to the mortuary in the nearby town of Ughelli. Another local official put the death toll among the â€œOcean Boysâ€ football supporters at 13.
Bayelsa and Delta are two of the main states in Nigeriaâ€™s restive Niger Delta, where criminal gangs and militant groups regularly ambush vehicles and carry out kidnappings for ransom.
The government official said the killings appeared to be part of a feud between rival â€œcultsâ€, a word often used in Nigeria to refer to university campus gangs originally sponsored by politicians to commit abuses at election time.
Detailed statistics are not available, but hundreds of people are believed to have been killed in clashes between such gangs since the early 1990s at the more than 100 federal and regional universities and polytechnics in Nigeria.
The lawlessness in a region which is home to Africaâ€™s biggest oil and gas industry has forced many foreign companies to remove expatriate staff and scale back their operations.