Calabar Tragedy: Kanu, Others to Stage All-Stars Match for Victims  


By Bassey Inyang in  Calabar

Former Nigerian international, Nwankwo Kanu, would be part of players lined up for an All-Stars football match to raise funds for electrocuted victims of last Thursday’s tragedy at a viewing centre in Nyaghassang Community, Calabar Municipality, Cross River State.

A high-tension cable, the UNICAL 11KV Feeder, collapsed on the  viewing centre constructed with zinc, when some football enthusiasts were watching Manchester United FC versus Anderlecht FC in the UEFA Europa League quarter final match.

This is coming as Senator Florence Ita-Giwa led hundreds of mourners and sympathisers on a candle-light procession through the community to the scene of the incident where it became clear that eight people had died following the incident.

The list of deceased from the incident are Mr. Emmaneul Edet Okon, David John, Ejiofor Chukwuebuka, Elder James Edem Akpan, Miss Blessing Okon Udo, Samuel Edet Sam, Marshall Pius Akpan, and Mr Ekemini Samuel Monday.

Participants in the procession from all walks of life wore black Tee-shirts with the inscription: “Rest in Peace Dear Football Enthusiasts.”

Prayer session was also held during the candle-light procession conducted by a former Special Adviser to the state Governor on Religious Affairs, Pastor Eyo Okpo-Ene.

Ita-Giwa, who told journalists after leading a candle light procession and prayer session, to commemorate one week of the incident, said Kanu who is one of the legends of Arsenal of England, would be working with other former football stars to ensure that the proposed All-stars match succeeds.

Ita-Giwa who said the procession was organised under the auspices of Concerned Mothers of the Efik Kingdom also promised that a standard football-viewing centre and a modern playing field would be constructed for the community.

“I had reached out to someone like Kanu Nwankwo, who is so sympathetic. In fact he is talking about an All-Stars Football Match to raise money to come and develop this community, and he is serious about it. Kanu has promised. I have spoken to Joseph Yobo, and he is ready to also collaborate with Kanu so that they bring their colleagues.

“Such a profound incident to happen to a community like this  is not something we should be quiet and let is just pass. In civilized communities, when people die for such a cause, you come out to remember that day. You come out to commiserate with the people. You come out to create activities that would commemorate that day that this thing happened. We thought that for innocent people to come and die like that for something they were passionate about, which is football, we should come out and remember that day that it happened and we are overwhelmed by the turnout today. We have to start showing love as Nigerians to each other. We have to show compassion to each other.

“If I have a voice to cry to the world to hear what has happened to this innocent people, then I would use that voice to cry out. Like I said, I am expecting Nigerians to come to our aid. I also have spoken to John Shittu, Pinnick.  Also spoke with Multichoice and they are coming on board to assist us in building the viewing centre and provide television and provide indefinite subscription.

“We are here as mothers and we feel the pain. If this people died watching Manchester United, we would find a way to make sure that Manchester United come here to make their presence felt. We are not going to give up. We are going to use all our connections to call the world and let the world know the presence of this place. People love football and especially in Cross River State, it is unbelievable. Their passion for football is unbelievable and we would not let them die and go like that. We should turn them to stars. We should keep their memories alive and the viewing centre we are going to build, on the wall of that centre, there would be the photographs of all them. All the children they left behind, we are going to make sure they have education and grow up properly. We are going to share with the families throughout,” Ita-Giwa said.