Bayelsa United, yesterday, disclosed that they have appealed the sanction imposed on the club by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) over alleged assault of an assistant referee at the Samson Siasia Stadium during a league match on February 1, 2023.

Following the incident, the IMC ordered a deduction of three points and three goals from Bayelsa United as penalty for breaching Rule B8:21, C11 and B13:52 during the matchday five game.

In its defence, the club said that contrary to the allegation of poor security at the venue, it provided funds to the Bayelsa State Football Association to ensure that security were on ground and other related logistics.

A statement by Bayelsa United’s Media Officer, Hananeel Jackson, reads: “The State FA provided 35 police officers for the purpose of ensuring and enhancing security at the stadium… the number was much more than the 30, which was earlier agreed to by both teams in the pre-match meeting.

“Preliminary report by the Police that were on ground indicates that the assault on the match official, Assistant Referee Two, Ojeleye Ebenezer, was the action of a hoodlum, who deceitfully gained access to the area pretending to be a local aid/guide of visiting teams.

“He also accompanied the visiting team to the pre-match meetings and to the stadium for the match, hence reasonably convinced everyone that he was rendering assistance to them, thereby hiding his intent and purpose.”

The club named the assailant as Mr. Joseph Zidougha Odede, popularly known as One Man Riot, saying “he is not related to Bayelsa United FC, has never been a member of the supporters club, whose dress code is navy blue shirt and white, as seen in the attached video on the appeal.” 

The club added that Odede has gained notoriety within the Nigerian football family as a lousy, noisy blabber that is generally known to be a fan of no club, but is only ready to do the bidding of any club that procures him or entices him with a gift or cash.

Bayelsa United said the breach of security, which led to the assault on the match official, cannot be justifiably blamed on the club, saying that the intention of the assailant was criminally disguised.

“It would, therefore, be against the spirit of natural justice and fairness to punish Bayelsa United for a breach it has not been found wanting,” the club said.

Bayelsa United said they were able to arrest Odede with the aid of men of the Nigeria Police and has started the process of taking him to the relevant court.

The club, therefore, urged the IMC to vacate the sanctions. They said: “On the grounds of the foregoing submission, Bayelsa United pursuant to provision of Rule E of Framework and Rules of the Nigeria Premier Football League that N1 million awarded on the grounds of failure to provide adequate security, be set aside.

“The fine of N500, 000 awarded against Bayelsa United on grounds of failure to ensure the restriction of access to unauthorised persons to all areas, be also set aside.

“The order deducting three points and three goals from the accumulated points/goals of Bayelsa United for the assault of match official be vacated in the interest of fairness and equity.

“The fine of N250, 000 for the assault on Ojeleye Ebenezer be reviewed downwards, as the team is willing to compensate for the physical abuse suffered by the official at the stadium.

“Also, the order closing the Samson Siasia Stadium to fans indefinitely be vacated or reviewed.”

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