By Amaechi Agbo
The players of FC Taraba and Fc Taraba Queens were, over tye week, brutalised and injured by a team of detached police men.
The players were assulted for protest against their 18 months unpaid salaries by the Taraba State government.
The players who embarked on a peaceful protesting picketed the Taraba State Government House and prevented staff and visitors from entering their offices or getting inside the premises.
A player from the Taraba Queens, who pleaded anonimity, told our correspondent that the state government “deliberately withhold the salaries and bonuses of the players, despite the bailout funds given to them by the federal government for past months”
The players resolved to stay at the premises of the government house until their demand is considered.
Efforts by government officials who persuaded them to leave the premises failed.
Cobsquently, the Nigerian police attached to the Taraba State Government House and some force command were called in. After much talks that the players yollshoukd vacate the premises yielded no results, the police resorted to assault; beating, kicking and teargassing the players.
The police who were armed with horsewhips and rifles, tear gas canisters, injured 3 players and arrested and detained one whise identify who.not known at the time of press.
The Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria (APFON) has described the police action as inhuman and barbaric and to the League Management Company, LMC and the Nigeria Women Football League, NWFL for immediate action to save the situation.
In a statement, APFON said “the League Management Company and Women football league body should react to the “inhuman and barbaric assault on the players for demanding for what they have laboured for over eighteen months”.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers, NANPF, has expressed shock over the shooting and detention of some players of the male and female teams of Taraba State for embarking on a peaceful protest to demand the payment of 18 months salaries and other allowances owed them by the Taraba State Goverment
In a statement signed by the General-Secretary, NANPF, Comrade Austin Popo, the association expressed worry that “ instead of responding to the demands of the protesting players, the State Goverment unleashed armed police men on the players, teargassed and shot one of the players, and locked up three others in police cell.
“The players union condem the action of the Taraba State Goverment in strong terms and consider the shooting and detention of the players as babaric, wicked and uncivilised.
“The union therefore call on the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, the Nigeria Football Federation, the Nigeria Women league body, the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, to prevail on the Taraba State Goverment and the Inspector General of Police to order the immediate release of the detained players, the treatmemt of the injured player, stop the harassment of the other players hiding somewhere and put in place necessary machineries to pay the Players and officials.
“The players union will wait for further directives from the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria who’s President Comrade Bobboi Bala has been monitoring developement,” the statement concludes.
Efforts to get the views of the Taraba FC management on the issue proved abortive as the Media Officer neither responded to text messages sent to.him nor answered his phone calls.
FC Taraba is a Nigerian football club based in Jalingo, Taraba State Capital. They are playing in the 2nd-tier division in the Nigeria National League, while the female state team, Taraba Queens, got promoted back to the premier league from the amateur league this season.