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JUSTICE FOR EBELE OBI: IFEANYI UBAH GIVEN RECORD BAN AND FINE BY LMC

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Following the review of new video evidence of the incident that occurred immediately after the Match Day 8 fixture in Nnewi between FC IfeanyiUbah and Heartland of Owerri, the League Management Company (LMC) has issued fresh charges against the Proprietor of FC IfeanyiUbah, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah and handed him a fine of N2, 500, 000 in addition to ten match ban from all Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) venues in a Summary Jurisdiction notice issued Thursday afternoon.

Relying on the Match Commissioner’s report which did not capture the incident, the LMC had charged Chief Ubah for encroachment on the field of play only but having received additional evidence that supported a case of assault on goalkeeper, Ebele Obi, fresh charges drafted.

Chief Ubah was charged for breach of Rule C1 of the NPFL Rules and Framework for an offence of misconduct in that immediately after the match he encroached on the field of play and assaulted Ebele Obi while his personal security aides further assaulted the player.

For this, the LMC ruled in an exercise of summary jurisdiction to “suspend Chief Ubah from all NPFL match venues for the next ten matches”.

The club owner was also fined N2, 500, 000 and ordered to write a letter of apology and an undertaking to be a good ambassador of the NPFL henceforth.

Arising from the unrestrained behaviour of the personal security of Ubah, the LMC further ruled that club officials and guests to NPFL matches are prohibited from bringing self procured security apparatus to match venues.

However, the last four of the ten match ban has been suspended for a probationary period expiring at the end of the 2015/16 season.

In a related development, Heartland FC officials have accepted the sanction to pay N750, 000 for their failure to control their players who harassed the match referee and pushed him down. They apologized for the lapse and appealed for leniency citing the fact that their goalkeeper was a first offender.

In the letter signed by the General Manager, Oscar Keke, the club pleaded for a reduction of the fine adding that “Heartland is not known for crowd trouble even in the face of negative results. The incident under reference must be viewed as an aberration in the light of which we are appealing for a substantial reduction in the fine”.

Keke also noted that, “Ebele Obi’s conduct is certainly not reflective of his usual behaviour. We are appealing for clemency on his behalf. Moreover, the gravity and level of punishment coming on the heels of the brutality he suffered in the hands of the proprietor of FC IfeanyiUbah and his security aides will amount to double jeopardy for the young man”.

Also arising from the FC IfeanyiUbah versus Heartland match, the LMC has written to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) recommending that the Match Commissioner, Sunday Jibrin Audu from Federal Capital Territory and the Center Referee, Ibrahim Ajao be withdrawn from futher officiating in NPFL matches.

In a review of performance carried out by the LMC, Ajao was cited for failure to report the multiple assault incidences recorded during and after the match. He also was cited for failure to submit his match report within the statutory 24 hours as the said report was only submitted on March 31st, while the match held on March 23.

Similarly, the Match Commissioner, Audu was also charged for failure to adequately reflect in his report the cases of multiple assaults on Heartland goalkeeper and his team mates.