During the semifinal match at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Bouaké on Wednesday, no fewer than five Nigerians reportedly died while watching the penalty shoot-outs between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana of South Africa.
Those who died included a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; the Kwara State University Deputy Bursar, Alhaji Ayuba Abdullahi; a sales representative, Mikhail Osundiji; a serving National Youth Service Corps member identified simply as Samuel; and an Anambra-born businessman based in Cote d’Ivoire, Osondu Nwoye.
The match ended 1-1 after extra time, with both goals coming from penalties during regular time. Eagles captain William Troost-Ekong converted his 67th-minute kick, and Teboho Mokoena equalized from a 90th-minute spot-kick for the South Africans. The Mokoena equalizer came just after the Super Eagles thought they had scored another goal through a tap-in from Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, which was overturned after the referee checked the Video Assistant Referee for an infringement in the Nigerian penalty box in the build-up to the goal.
The dramatic twist in the tension-soaked match was said to have led to the death of the former member of the House of Representatives representing the Ika Federal Constituency of Delta State, Ojougboh, who reportedly screamed and subsequently slumped as soon as the South Africans scored the equalizing penalty kick. The Governor of Delta State, Sheriff Oborevwori, confirmed Ojougboh’s death in a condolence statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Festus Ahon, on Thursday.
Ahon said the governor commiserated with Ojougboh’s family, the Ika nation, Agbor Kingdom, and the APC family over the demise of the renowned politician. The governor said, “On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I mourn the passing of an astute and grassroots-oriented politician, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, who passed on Wednesday. “The news of his death was shocking, given his invaluable contributions to the politics of the state and the country at large. Until his death, he was a renowned chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in the state.”
The President-General of the Agbor Community Union, Chief Laurence Onyeche, said Ojougboh’s death had created a big vacuum in the Agbor kingdom. In a statement issued by the Publicity Secretary of the Union, Mr. Augustine Ekamagule, the PG described Ojougboh as a fearless politician.
“On behalf of the PG and members of Agbor Community Union, where Ojougboh belonged, we sympathize with the family. According to our President-General of the Agbor Community Union, Chief Laurence Onyeche, Ojougboh died in Abuja while watching the Nigeria vs. South Africa match. He said an Ojougboh family member called him around 3 a.m. on Thursday, informing him that Cairo Ojougboh had passed away.
“The family said Ojougboh was watching the match, and immediately South Africa scored the goal, he shouted and slumped. All efforts to revive him were not fruitful. It was around 3 a.m. when the family announced his death. Rest in peace, great and fearless politicians of our time,” he said.
Similarly, the deputy bursar of KWASU, Abdullahi, was said to have died on Wednesday night while watching the same match. GOLDENNEWSNG learnt he was buried on Thursday morning, according to Islamic rites. The university’s Director of Information, Dr. Saedat Aliyu, confirmed Abdullahi’s death, describing the late deputy bursar as a “jovial and radiant person” who was always ready to assist other people.
According to her, “There is no dull moment when you’re with Alhaji Ayuba. He’s very jovial and ready to render assistance to anyone who goes to him for such assistance. He came to work on Wednesday and was full of life. He was jovial and radiant at the office.”
In Adamawa State, an NYSC member, identified only as Samuel, who hailed from Kaduna State, was said to have also passed away just before Nigeria’s final penalty kick, which secured the Eagles’ win in the match. The NYSC Coordinator in Adamawa State, Jingi Dennis, said on Thursday that the corps member was confirmed dead at the General Hospital in Numan.
In Bouaké, the Anambra-born billionaire, Chief Nwoye, himself an avid football lover, reportedly slumped while watching the same match. The news of his death was made known in a post by a Facebook user, Chukwudi Iwuchukwu, on Thursday.