The Akwa Ibom State government has refuted media reports that five persons died due to spactators’ stampede during Nigeria/Zambia World Cup qualifying match at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium Uyo, on Saturday.
A statement by the state commissioner for information and strategies, Mr Charles Udoh, said the story, carried by the Sunday edition of a national daily (not Sunday Sun) was not only false but tainted with malice.
“There was a rush by spectators; who arrived the venue after the match had started, trying to gain entrance into the stadium which led to a few of them sustaining minor injuries.
“There were nine people injured during the incident and all of them were taken to the hospital for treatment while no life was lost. This much was confirmed by the Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer and the Commissioner for Health.
“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.
“It is on record that Akwa Ibom State is reputed as being; not only a peaceful state but a safe and secure state with credible leadership which is one of the reasons why the state has; in the last 18 months, been listed by the National Bureau of Statistics as the 2nd largest Foreign Direct Investment Destination in Nigeria.
“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 country, was published without verifying the facts. It is instructive to note that the Nigeria vs Zambia match was a FIFA organized match and mischievous insinuations as contained in the said report could easily lead to Nigeria being sanctioned.
“It is our sincere hope that the author of the said report will take the pains to ensure the veracity of information in future before publication,” the statement said.