With ADEBAYO OLODAN
When the leadership of the League Management Company (LMC) handed a
heavy 12-match ban to the captain of Kano Pillars, Rabiu Ali, for his
violent behaviour during last season’s Super 6 tournament at the Agege
Township Stadium, Lagos, the decision was widely celebrated among
ardent followers of the domestic league.
Not that those who applauded the decision in June actually have ill
feelings towards Ali or the Kano-based club but it was widely believed
that the decision will help in no small measure in curbing crowd
violence in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
For those who may have missed out of what transpired at the Agege
Township Stadium in Lagos, Pele as Rabiu Ali is fondly known was
accused of inciting the Kano Pillars fans when his team was held to a
1-1 draw by Enugu Rangers.
After the final whistle, the fans of Kano Pillars invaded the pitch
thereby damaging the perimeter fences and advertising panels. They
also hauled various objects at the VIP stands while Ali reportedly led
an assault on match officials on international TV with zero regard for
the NPFL, the organisers and other stakeholders.
After serving out just five-match ban, the league body surprisingly
cut short Ali’s suspension to what it called suspended sentence
thereby granting him the all clear bill to feature in Pillars’ Week 6
away match away at Plateau Utd. According to a letter written to the
player and his club, the veteran midfielder is required as part of the
commutation of his ban, to contribute to community engagement and
development including visiting schools to promote good virtues
associated with football.
The LMC hinged its decision to give Ali soft landing on his impressive
record in the domestic league and the senior national team.
However, contrary to what the LMC hinged their decision on, I believe
the LMC has compromised and appeared to have politics with our
The latest decision by the league body can be described as the height
of inconsistency considering the fact that crowd violence has remained
a major bane for our domestic league.
How come the LMC that is preaching a violent-free season turn around
to be indirectly promoting violence at our match venues in the local
If it were another player that was indicted like Rabiu Ali or if the
player belongs to another club outside Kano Pillars, would the LMC
have cut short or terminate the 12-match ban after only five matches?
Before arriving at such decision, how come the disciplinary issue of
Rabiu Ali was not referred to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)
Judging by the sudden twist of events, it appeared someone or a group
of people at the LMC headquarters were trying to salvage the current
season for Pillars with the club currently placed 19th on the log.
Out of the four matches played by the Pyramid Boys (Kano Pillars) so
far, they have only drawn two matches and more worrying is the fact
that the team is yet to find the back of the net. It is obvious
Pillars needs their talisman and inspirational captain hence the
series of apology letters the club and the player wrote to the
leadership of the LMC.
Ali has scored at least 10 league goals in five of his last seven
seasons at Kano Pillars and with him on the pitch, any goal that will
be scored by the team is likely to have the name of the club’s captain
wrapped around it.
Ali, no doubt is one player I love watching in the domestic scene, I
however fervently believe that the LMC may have shot themselves in the
foot with such irrational decision on the ban.
The LMC needs to be seen to be fair and just to all clubs. There
should be no favouritism when applying the rules in our league. It is
unlikely that the league body will have the moral right to suspend or
ban another player in the league for similar offence.