The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Kwara Chapter, has reversed its earlier decision to boycott the Kwara United versus Shooting Stars (3SC) match at the Ilorin Stadium.
The initial decision to boycott the game was made due to security concerns and threats to the lives of SWAN members, following the assault on some of its members during the Emir’s Cup final between Police Machine FC and Musty FC on Saturday, 11th November, 2023.
The victims included former SWAN Chairmen Jimoh Bashir and Waheed Bibire, CAF accredited photo-journalists Abdul Momoh and Adeyemi Oluwafemi, as well as a member, Victor Michael.
In response to the attack, the Police Force, through a statement by SP Ajayi Okasanmi, acting as the spokesperson, condemned the actions of its representatives and promised to conduct a thorough investigation.
The Commissioner of Police, CP Victor Olaiya, expressed his upset over the incident and apologized on behalf of the command, pledging to maintain the cordial relationship between the police and the press.
“I have brought this issue to the attention of the commissioner of police, and he is very upset with the action of the policemen involved. While directing a discreet investigation into the matter and a possible meeting with the assaulted journalists, I want to personally apologize on behalf of the command and plead that you exercise patience until the incident is investigated and resolved.”
“Meanwhile, I want to plead that this particular incident must not truncate the existing cordial relationship between the command and the press in the state. Thanks.”
Despite these assurances, SWAN, in a statement signed by its secretary Kuti, had initially announced the boycott of the Kwara United versus 3SC match, citing ongoing security concerns and threats to their members’ safety.
““This is to notify members of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Kwara State Chapter that we are boycotting the match between Kwara United versus Shooting Stars on Sunday (12th November, 2023) due to security reasons and threat to lives. “
However, in a turnaround, the Chairman of SWAN Kwara Chapter, Ayodeji Ismail, released a statement on Sunday afternoon indicating a change in stance.
The statement acknowledged the efforts made in dialogue between SWAN, the management of Kwara United, senior colleagues, and the national vice president, Yinka Owolewa.
Ismail stated, “After so much back and forth, we are persuaded to review our earlier stance to stand down from reporting today’s crucial match between Kwara United and 3SC.”
The management of Kwara United played a crucial role in convincing SWAN to reconsider its decision, assuring the safety of SWAN members during the match. As a result, SWAN members who wish to cover the match were urged to be at the stadium by 3:15 pm, with arrangements made for entry through the VIP wing.