The Police in Akwa Ibom State have stated that six persons were injured Saturday in Uyo during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Zambia.
The Nigeria Super Eagles defeated the Chipolopolo of Zambia 1-0 to become the first African country to qualify for the World Cup which will be hosted by Russia.
The police spokesperson in the state, Bala Elkana, told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday afternoon that there was a stampede at the entrance gate of the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium when football enthusiasts were rushing to enter the stadium while the match was going on.
“You know we had a large turnout of people yesterday because of the nature of the match,” said Mr. Elkana, a deputy superintendent of police. “We have people who didn’t have tickets and they were also rushing to enter the stadium”.
Mr. Elkana said six persons sustained injuries during the stampede and that three persons were taken to the hospital.
The police spokesperson said that a report by Punch newspaper report that five persons died in the stampede was false.
“If you look at the Punch report you’ll see where the reporter quoted me as saying that nobody died, but he still went ahead to maliciously publish that five persons died,” he said, adding that nobody died in the stampede.
“In a text message the Punch reporter sent to me, he said he was told that five persons died. But in the story he wrote he said that he witnessed five persons died,” Mr. Elkana said.
The Akwa Ibom State government, which also said the report of the deaths was false, however, said that nine persons were injured during the stampede.
“There were nine people injured during the incident and all of them were taken to the hospital for treatment,” the Commissioner for Information in the state, Charles Udoh, said in a statement he issued on Sunday as a reaction to the Punch report.
“The Godswill Akpabio International Stadium is probably the best-maintained sporting facility in Nigeria today and has no history of poor crowd control as maliciously posited in the report.
“We are dismayed that such a report, which has a high potency of painting a negative picture of not only Akwa Ibom but Nigeria as a country, was published without verifying the facts.
“It is instructive to note that the Nigeria vs Zambia match was a FIFA organised match and mischievous insinuations as contained in the said report could easily lead to Nigeria being sanctioned,” Mr. Udoh said.