The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Lagos chapter, has described the defense by Remo Stars FC of Sagamu on the assault of a sports journalist as an unfortunate sad commentary on the attitude of the club towards the safety and security of participants and the growth of the Nigeria Professional Football League.
The League Management Company (LMC) last Tuesday, in a summary jurisdiction, found Remo Stars guilty for allowing several acts of violence by its supporters against its visitors, including Sportsville reporter, Ekerete Kelvin who was manhandled and suffered both physical, material and emotional damages during their match day 16 home game with Wikki Tourists.
Remo Stars admitted guilt in all other charges but denied responsibility towards the journalist on the claims that “Kelvin Ekerette was neither accredited as a Journalist for the game nor seated at the media tribune for easy identification like other over 15 Journalists that covered the match.”
Chairman of Lagos SWAN, Fred Edoreh, in reaction, has described the defense as a shameful after-thought and an affront on sports journalism, unbecoming of any true stakeholder in football.
“For the good of the game, true stakeholders abhor and condemn soccer violence and it behooves every club management to protect all persons, without exception, admitted into their stadiums, be they spectators, visiting players and officials or journalists,” Edoreh said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there is yet no universal accreditation for admission of sports journalists as various clubs clear reporters to the games in different ways. In this case, Ekerete presented his SWAN and media organisation’s identification card at the entrance, diligently also put a call to the Media Officer of Remo Stars, Oladimeji Oshode who answered the call, confirmed to the gate attendant and cleared him for admission.
Many of the “other over 15 journalists” referred to, especially visitors from Lagos, confirm and are available to testify that they were also accredited in similar manner.
“Even before the game, Ekerete had interacted with Remo Stars Media Officer to furnish him with the team list which the later, in recognition of his status as a covering journalist, forwarded directly to his Whatsapp account. Furthermore, Ekerete was seated at the Press Tribune and directly in front of Remo Stars Media Officer for the whole of the first half.
“At the break, he went with Wikki Tourists Media Officer, Nasiru Abdullahi Kobi, to the VVIP section to confirm an interview booking with Wikki’s chairman, Alhaji Isa Musa Matori who was seated by Remo Stars proprietor, Kunle Soname. These persons can also be available to testify.