The National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers (NANPF) has warned against any attempt to sweep the murder by the Nigerian military of Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan defender, Izu Joseph, under the carpet.
In a public statement signed by its National Legal Adviser, Malachy Ugwuanyi Esq, NANPF said it has carried out investigations on the circumstances surrounding the shooting of the footballer and condemned in “strong terms” the manner in which he was killed.
Debunking what it described as insinuations by some in military quarters that the player was a cultist, the association said it is disappointed and annoyed by such “frantic attempts by the perpetrators if the grave act to exonerate themselves from the crime, insisting that “a professional and mercurial player like IZU is too occupied with his career all year round to be roped in with such allegation.”
While working with the family to unearth more facts on the murder, NANPF called on the Nigerian military to immediately accept responsibility for the death of the player and stop the denials and attempts to tarnish the image of the player, warning that because “sports loving Nigerians will not allow them gloss over the matter.”
The association revealed that it has petitioned various authorities and institutions including the offices of the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister for Sports, the Nigerian Football Federation, the Trade Union Congress, the Senate and House Committees on Sports to look into the matter and ensure that the perpetrators of the act are brought to book for the cause of justice.
It called on Nigerians to join hands with it in ensuring “that this matter is not swept under the carpet and that the family of Izu Joseph is catered for” following the murder of their bread winner.
Izu Joseph, a professional football with Shooting Stars Football Club of Ibadan was shot to death by the military searching for Niger a Delta militants while on end of season holiday in his village in Bayelsa State.