Angry fans of Abia Warriors FC went berserk on Wednesday at the Umuahia Township Stadium and attacked Centre Referee, Abubakar Ago, from Yobe and Assistant Referee, Azeez Orowole, from Osun.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the incident took place at the end of a midweek encounter between the Umuahia-based club and visiting Ifeanyi Uba FC.
The match, which many fans considered a must win for relegation-bound Abia Warriors, ended in a 1-1 draw.
The referees were attacked on the pitch shortly after the blast of the final whistle to signal the end of the match.
The fans, who alleged biased officiating, overwhelmed the few police officers on duty.
Even the intervention of the Chairman of Abia Warriors, Emeka Inyama, could not save the situation.
It took the perseverance and frantic efforts of the police to rescue the referees from the mob.
A detachment of anti-riot police from the Central Police Station, Umuahia, was later deployed to the stadium to restore normalcy.
The police fired teargas canisters to disperse the fans before escorting the referees and other match officials to their hotel.
Some of the fans alleged that the 85th minute equaliser by Ifeanyi Uba’s forward, Kojo Baah, was scored with hand.
They also expressed disenchantment with the assistant referee for signalling an infringement against the home team.
The resultant spot kick was converted into a goal by the visitors.
Abia Warriors lone goal came at the 48th minute after Effiong Ndifereke beat Ifeanyi Uba’s defender outside the penalty box to fire a grounder into the net.
The fans expressed the fear that the draw compounded the woes of Abia Warriors, who occupy 17 points.
Reacting to the incident, Inyama said, “it’s a bad day for Nigerian football.”
He assured their fans that the club would not go on relegation, saying, “we will fight to the end and I can assure our fans that we will not go on relegation.”