In a shocking turn of events, tragedy struck as at least five Nigerians lost their lives while watching the intense semi-final match between Nigeria and South Africa at the ongoing 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d‘Ivoire on Wednesday.
The match, which was highly anticipated by fans of both nations, took a somber turn as reports emerged of fatal incidents during the game.
According to reports, the fatalities occurred when South Africa was awarded a penalty kick against Nigeria towards the end of the game, while another incident occurred when the match got to penalty shoot-outs with no fewer than four Nigerians allegedly losing their lives.
The deceased include a serving member of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), identified as Samuel, who slumped and died at a viewing centre in Adamawa; a former member of the House of Representatives, who represented Ika federal constituency of Delta State, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, who died while watching the game; and a deputy bursar of Kwara State University (KWASU), Alhaji Ayuba Abdullahi who gave up his ghost watching the high-tension encounter.
A sales representative in Ogun State, Mikail Osundiji, was also reported to have died during the tension-soaked match.
Unconfirmed reports also revealed that Anambra-born billionaire, Chief Osondu Nwoye, who lives in Ivory Coast, allegedly died while watching Wednesday‘s AFCON semifinal match between his country and South Africa.
Nwoye, a major spare parts dealer and CEO of Group Auto Promotion Cote d‘Ivoire, who resides in Ivory Coast, according to report, was shouting on top of his voice when Nigerian star striker, Victor Osihmen, scored the second goal, which was later cancelled by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). It was alleged that the shock of seeing the goal cancelled and a penalty awarded against Nigeria was too much for him to bear for his fragile heart, leading to his collapse in the stadium.
A Facebook user, Chukwudi Iwuchukwu, who reported the story on his facebook page on Thursday, said Nwoye was immediately rushed to the hospital but all efforts to revive him failed as he was pronounced dead.
As for the lawmaker, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, a source close to the outspoken politician, told our correspondent in Asaba, Delta State, that the APC chieftain slumped as soon as a penalty kick was awarded against Nigeria during the AFCON match with South Africa.
LEADERSHIP sources also revealed that deputy bursar of Kwara State University (KWASU), Ayuba Abdullahi, died after he went to watch the match at a sports centre in the Sango area which was very close to his house.
According to the source, Ayuba watched the game till the end of extra time when he felt uncomfortable and was rushed to a private hospital in the area where he gave up the ghost.
“The deputy bursar watched the Nigeria/South Africa match from the beginning till the end of the extra time, and when it was the time of penalty kick, he complained that he was feeling dizzy so he said he needed to go back home and rest, not knowing that his blood pressure had gone up.
“So, on getting home, he collapsed and was rushed to a private hospital in Sango and he was referred to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), and before he could be attended to, he died,” the source said.
Also, NYSC coordinator in Adamawa State, Jingi Dennis, said the corps member was confirmed dead at the General Hospital in Numan.
“According to his colleagues who went with him to watch the match, the late corps member told the people around him that he did not like watching penalty shootouts. He then bowed his head and, all of a sudden, he collapsed.
”He was confirmed dead at the General Hospital in Numan by the doctor.”
Also, a man said to be working as a sales representative with one of the multi-national manufacturing companies in Nigeria on Wednesday evening slumped and died while watching the semi-final football encounter between Nigeria and the Republic of South Africa in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The 43-year-old man, identified as Mikail Osundiji allegedly died as a result of a suspected shock after the central referee nullified Nigeria‘s second goal against South Africa, scored by striker Victor Osimhen.
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the late Osun State-born Osundiji, a father of two, did not show any sign of sickness prior to when he showed up at the football viewing centre located at the Federal Housing Estate (FHE) in Olomoore axis of Abeokuta metropolis to watch the match.
An elder sister to the deceased, Mrs. Adetunji Nofisat, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Friday, explained that Osundiji suddenly breathed out heavily after the cancellation of the Nigeria‘s second goal, lowered his head and consequently fell to the ground at the football viewing centre.
“That was when other people at the football viewing centre rushed to him and took him to one of the private hospitals in Olomoore before the doctor on duty pronounced him dead.“
Nofisat said the remains of the deceased were buried yesterday according to the Islamic rites.
„We cannot take his corpse to Okuku in Osun State because he still has a father, mother and two children who are 12 and seven years of age“.
Lamenting the death of his younger brother, Nofisat however, appealed to the state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun to come to the assistance of the family, particularly through scholarships, to enable the children left behind complete their education.