Late Chineme Martins
By Raphael Ekpang
The family of the late Nasarawa United FC of Lafia ace defender,
Chineme Martins would not forget in a hurry the day they received the sad news of
their son’s death while in active service for his club.
Martins, 23, died after collapsing during a game for his club Nasarawa United on March 8, 2020.
Martins fell cataleptic, during the last 45 minutes in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) match against Katsina United.
The player after he slumped was attended to by both medics and none medics of the two clubs. Though the head of medical in Nasarawa United FC, Baba Zubeiru claimed that, crowd could not allow them to give proper attention to the slumped player because everybody wanted to save a life, but was later rushed to Dalhatu-Araf Specialist Hospital in Lafia where he was later pronounced dead.
The action of the medical team of the home team sent a very wrong signal to the entire football fraternity across the globe. That, off course prompted the lower chamber of the Nigerian National Assembly, House of Representatives to quickly swing into action by mandating its committee on sports to investigate the cause of death of the player and also audit the health facilities provided by the league management company for the league matches in the country.
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) which is the apex football governing body in the country also followed suit and constituted an Adhoc Committee on Safety and Security to unravel the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate death of Martins.
However, it was reported that the NFF had wanted to ascertain the cause of the late player’s death through an autopsy but the family turned down the gesture.
Notwithstanding the effort of the NFF, the club he died while playing for made little or no efforts to feel sympathetic to the death of their player, a situation some of their players are considering moving away from the club.
After Martins slumped there was a palpable delay in getting Martins to the hospital because of a problem with the ambulance. Suffice it to say that Nasarawa united bluntly don’t care about the life of their players, because similar case happened in 2018 during a friendly match between them and FC Abuja where Dominic Dukudod slumped on the field and efforts to revived him proved aborted as he died before getting to the hospital . Barely less than two years after the same situation occurred in the same manner.
Nevertheless, it was reported that the governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule gave the family of the late Martins four million naira (N4 Million) to assist in catering for the burial arrangement. On June, 2020 the family came to Lafia to pick up the remains of Martins for burial, It was gathered that only the head of Medical of the team, Baba Zubeiru was on ground to assist the family of Martins and after that could not follow the corps down to Isu Kwato in Abia State where the late player was buried.
It was revealed that the remains of Martins was convened with three vehicular convoys to Abia State without a representative from the club he played and died for.
Two days after, Martins was buried in Izu Kwato, his home town, without the representative of the club, since then nobody cares about his age mother he left behind. Not even his arrears of Salary has been released to his family not to talk of all insurance benefits which no one can vow for.
Meanwhile, the NFF, Adhoc Committee on Safety and Security set up to unravel the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate death of Martins has recommended that Nasarawa United should be fined N10 million naira for non-compliance. The money off course would goes to the pulse of the football body.
According to Dr. Peter Singabele-led committee, “Nasarawa United FC should pay a fine of N10 million to the LMC for non-compliance with Club Licensing Regulations and violation of NPFL Framework and Rules, and should pay all financial entitlements of the late Martins immediately, including arrears of salaries and insurance benefits, if any.”
Where was LMC when Dominic Dukudod slumped and died in a friendly match between Nasarawa United against FC Abuja in the same stadium in 2018 less than two years ago? At what point did LMC remember that the club did not comply with what? Was it not enough for LMC to make sure they comply with whatever happened after the death of Dukudod before allowing them to play in that same stadium? Or is it the N10 million that matters? These are some of the questions begging for answers?
Well, in case Nasarawa United is or was not in tune with how clubs treat their late players, the case of Ifeanyi George of Enugu Rangers is still fresh in our memory.
The late George died while on his way to Lagos after his club has declared Covid-19 break, yet the Enugu based NPFL club took over the entire burial arrangement of their late players and were there in their numbers to pay him their last respect, which that was not the case of late Martins.
The late George family did not only witnessed the outpouring of love from their late son’s club management and team mates before, during and after the burial, but have continued to benefit from the labour of their late son.
Enugu Rangers after the normal burial of George, their former player who died of motor accident while traveling to Lagos during the club Covid-19 break, the family apart from other entitlements received a whopping sum of 20 Million naira from their late son’s club, but that was never the case of the late Martins’ family who have left everything to
Nigerian football body should learn to do the right thing at the right time. A stitch in time saves nine.