They died watching Nigeria/South Africa match

Popular Nollywood actress Victoria Inyama recently shocked her numerous fans when she disclosed that her estranged husband, Ben Okri, was in the habit of beating her anytime Manchester United (Man. Utd,) Football Club loses a match.

Inyama, now based in the UK, confessed that the physical abuse she suffered made her hate the English premiership club.

“I hate Man Utd, ehn. The number of beatings wey dem beat me because    Man Utd. lose match ehn. Even up to today when there is a  match and Man U loses, I am like thank God because I  would have been beaten all day. Even my son knows and would be laughing,” the hugely successful actress and mother of three, said, last week.

While many of Inyama’s fans and Nigerians probably dismissed her revelation as a joke taken too far, or a clout-chasing stunt to boost her fan base, a rather morbid angle to the excitement that greeted Wednesday’s  tension-soaked semi-final match between the Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023), not only gave credence to Inyama’s distressing revelation, but also underscored the   obsession of football enthusiasts.

The decisive encounter between Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana,   brought immeasurable excitement   to most  Nigerians, including football administrators but  an unforgettable  sorrow  to  four Nigerian  families.

The families lost their loved ones who were watching the game which ended in a 4-2 penalty shootout  in favour of Super Eagles.

The four that died included an   All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Dr. Cairo Ojougboh.

Ojougboh was a former House of Representatives member and Executive Director (Project), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Others are Deputy Bursar of Kwara State University (KWASU),  Abdullahi   Ayuba, National Youth Service Corps member simply identified as Samuel, and a businessman, Osondu Nwoye. Ojougboh slumped when the referee cancelled Nigeria’s second goal and awarded a penalty to the South Africans while he became uncomfortable  during the extra-time.

He was said to have passed on before getting to the hospital .

Samuel also died during the penalty shootout.

Nwoye, a Cote d’ Ivoire businessman also died when Nigeria’s second goal was annulled.

“As soon as a penalty kick was awarded against Nigeria during the  match, the outspoken APC chieftain slumped,”  said a source.

The Nation gathered that the KWASU  deputy bursar omplained of dizziness and requested assistance from people to take him home.

A source said: “Ayuba watched the game till the end of the extra time when he felt uncomfortable and was rushed to a private hospital in the area where he gave up the ghost.

The Deputy Bursar watched the Nigeria/South Africa match from the beginning till the end of the extra time and when it was the time for penalty kick, he complained that he was feeling dizzy, so he said he needed to go back home and rest not knowing that his blood pressure had gone up.

“So on getting home, he collapsed and he was rushed to a private hospital in Sango from where he was referred to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) and before he could be attended to, he died.”

He was buried yesterday morning according to Islamic rites. KWASU Spokesperson, Dr. Saedat Aliyu,  said that the deputy bursar was hale and hearty when he came to work on Wednesday.

“The deputy bursar was hale and hearty and was full of life on Wednesday in his office. May Almighty Allah grant him Aljanah Firdaus,” she added.

Aliyu, in a statement issued later, said: “This is to announce the death of Mr. Ayuba Olaitan Abdullahi of the Bursary Department. Janazah will be held this morning, and his remains will be interred at the Hausa Muslim cemetery, Apata Yakuba, Oyun area, Ilorin, at 9 am. May Allah forgive all his sins and grant him Aljannah Firdaus.”

A witness   gave an account of how the Kaduna State-born Youth Corps member died on his social media handle.

He wrote: “We lost one Nigerian during our victory celebration over South Africa at our sports viewing centre here in Numan. The Corps member who is serving in Numan from Kaduna State fainted before the kick of the winning goal. He died before they could reach the hospital in Numan. May his soul rest in peace.”

NYSC Coordinator in Adamawa State, Jingi Dennis,  gave insight into how Samuel died.

He said:  “I received the news of his death last night. I hope to have more details today.

“According to his colleagues who went with him to watch the match, the late Corps member told the people around him that he did not like watching penalty shootouts. He then bowed his head and all of a sudden, he collapsed. He was confirmed dead at the General Hospital in Numan by a  doctor.”

The death of Nwoye, an  Umueze, Amanuke-born billionaire threw his community into mourning.

Nwoye, according to his kinsmen, was à philanthropist of high repute, not only in the sleepy Amanuke community but in the entire Awka North council area.

His friend and kinsman, Chief Chikodi Anarah, who is the Anambra State Commissioner for Home Affairs, told The Nation that it was difficult to believe his death.

À musician from Amanuke, Chibuzor Okafor (aka ‘Onyeoma) told The Nation that the entire community was in pain, adding, “à heavy rain has fallen in Amanuke.”

Medical experts speak

A Cardiology Consultant at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Mushin, Lagos, Dr. Akinsanya Olusegun-Joseph,  shed light on potential medical explanations for the sudden deaths.

He suggested that pre-existing cardiovascular issues could play a pivotal role in a person’s death after or during a football match.

Olusegun-Joseph said: “Watching an intense football match can elicit a range of emotions such as stress, anger, or excitement, and individuals with cardiovascular issues may be more susceptible to adverse effects, as these emotions can raise blood pressure and heart rate.”

He emphasised the importance of considering the timing of the deaths, noting that if symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or collapse occurred immediately after or during the match, a heart attack or other cardiac event during the match might be suspected.

Another LUTH    Consultant Charles Umeh, underscored the significance of delving into the individuals’ medical history.

“We need to go back to the person’s medical history—do they have cardiovascular problems, hypertension, could it be a heart attack? There are so many factors, and this situation is something we can’t analyse without having some information about the person,” Umeh, a clinical psychologist said.

Tributes pour in

Meanwhile, tributes have been pouring in from Nigerians to commiserate with the families of the deceased. Leading the pack was President Bola Tinubu.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, yesterday, President Tinubu extended his condolences to the Ojougboh family and the Delta State Government.

He said: “It is with a heavy heart that President Bola Tinubu received the news of the passing of Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, former executive director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

“Dr. Ojougboh was a member of the House of Representatives (2003-2007) and a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State. President Tinubu condoles with the Ojougboh family and the government and people of Delta State over this tragic loss.

“While praying for the peaceful repose of the departed, President Tinubu comforts his family and urges them to find strength and hope in God Almighty, who presides over the affairs of men, as well as in the cherished memories and legacy of the late APC chieftain.”

Senate President Godswill Akpabio described the death of Ojougboh as shocking and a huge loss to the people of the Niger Delta and the entire country.

Akpabio, in a  statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Jackson Udom, said: “The   Ojougboh as a member of the House of Representatives, contributed in no small way, his quota to the development of his people as their representative from 2003 -2007. He was the true voice of the people of Agbor, who ensured were seen and heard in the national scheme of things.

“On behalf of my family, the people of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial and the Senate, I commiserate with the Ojougboh family of Agbor, the government and the people of Delta State, on this painful demise of a notable and committed son of Agbor. I pray to God to grant his wife, children and those he left behind the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss.”

Some politicians stormed the late Ojougboh’s Abuja home yesterday.  They include the former governor of Borno State,  Ali-Modu Sherif, former governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, Senator Abdullahi Gumel and Senator Abba Aji, a former presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters (Senate) to ex-President  Goodluck Jonathan.

Sheriff said he has lost a friend, brother and trusted ally. The former Borno governor, who flew into Abuja yesterday from his Maiduguri base said he was shocked by the  death of Ojougboh.

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