Seven-time Nigeria Professional Football League champions, Enyimba of Aba have denied any wrongdoing in fielding 'suspended' midfielder, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu in Sunday's 3-0 thrashing of Niger Tornadoes of Minna on Sunday in Calabar, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The People's Elephant, winners of the prestigeous CAF Champions League title twice in 2003 and 2004, admitted fielding the player in the said match but claimed they were not communicated by the League Management Company as regards the suspension after the former Heartland and Warri Wolves midfielder was suspended after picking his fifth yellow card of the season against Akwa United.
"It is true that we fielded Ikechukwu Ibenegbu in the match against Niger Tornadoes. But that was for no extra judicial football reasons because we did not know he was suspended and there was no official communication to that effect from the organisers of the league," Chief Anyansi Agwu, chairman of the Executive Committee of Enyimba stated on Monday evening.
"There is no way we, at our level and experience, could have taken such a gamble, knowing such player was ineligible, even in our own home game."
Niger Tornadoes had on Monday evening filed a petition to the league body on Monday evening, demanding that Enyimba be reprimanded for violating one of the essential provisions of the rules of the competition, demanding also that the result be upturned in their favour.
Articule C (5) of the LMC Rules and Framework stipulates that any club that intentionally fielded a player who has received five yellow cards will forfeit the match with three goals and three points. And the Minna outfit are pressing on the LMC to invoke this provision. But Anyansi reckons that it would amount to mischief on the part of Niger Tornadoes if they received such notification from LMC as regards Ibenegbu's suspension but refused to make it available during the pre-match meeting or even communicate the match commissioner before the match.
"It looks like they have a script well written before the game," Anyansi said.
"Otherwise, how come they received a letter from LMC suspending one of our players without making it available during pre match meeting?
"The match commissioner is also supposed to have a copy from LMC.
"We have had instances where our opponents players were suspended but we were the ones to present the letter, making the club to drop such player.
"For instance, when we traveled to Makurdi against Nasarawa United, one of their players was similarly suspended and they did not have the letter from LMC. When we presented the letter during pre match meeting, they dropped the player even though they had listed him to start the game.
"There was also another incidence when we were playing our home games in Port Harcourt. Kano Pillars came with a letter from LMC that one of our players was ineligible for the game and we dropped him.
"So why did Niger Tornadoes refuse to present the letter suspending Ibenegbu?
"Why did they have to wait until Monday morning before notifying the match commissioner, filing their protest and at the same time paying the protest fee?
"It sound funny and seems something fishy. What do they want to achieve?", Anyansi asked rhethorically.
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