KANO – As world anticipates the launch of World Cup Brazil games, football fans in the north of Nigeria have been denied chances to support their team in viewing centers following repeated attacks by Nigeria’s militant group Boko Haram.
“I am a football fan and, in a way, fanatical about the game,” Ibrahim Abdullahi, an auto mechanic in Maiduguri, provincial capital of the northeastern Borno State, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday, June 11.
“But I'm afraid I may not go to viewing centers to watch matches during this World Cup because these centers are targets of Boko Haram attacks,” he said.
2014 World Cup Brazil (Special Coverage)
The one-month World Cup Brazil tournament kicks off on Thursday, June 12.
The Cup, the 20th version, features a total of 64 matches involving 32 teams from five continents.
Appearing for the fifth time in the tournament, champions of Africa, Nigeria’s Super Eagles, will meet Argentina, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina in Group F.
Endemic power failures often force Nigerian football fans to resort to watching must-see matches at local “viewing centers.”
However, this option was not feasible for many Nigerians in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states where these viewing centers were targeted several times by militants.
In March, a twin blast near a viewing center and a local shopping center in Maiduguri killed at least 45 people.
Fourteen others were killed at a bar that had been screening a televised football match in Mubi, a town in Adamawa State.
“As a human, such tragedy is expected to cause fear,” Bernard Obi, a trader in Maiduguri, said his fear had mounted after the Mubi attack.
“I'm actually scared of going to viewing centers,” he said. “I haven't made up my mind on whether or not to go.”
As the fears maximized of possible attacks, Nigeria's northeast Adamawa state banned the operation of all commercial football viewing centers in the state a few hours ahead of the tournament kick off.
“This ban is based on the advice by the Nigerian army and it is part of the security measures government is taking to safeguard lives and properties,” Ahmad Sajoh, the spokesman for Governor Murtala Nyako, told reporters on Wednesday.
“The government regrets all inconveniences caused by the action to the teeming football fans and the owners of the viewing centers,” he added.
In Damaturu, provincial capital of Yobe State, some Nigerians were determined on not allowing militants to spoil their festivities.
“I'm not scared in any way. I will watch all the matches, especially in the afternoon,” Mohamed Mohamed, carwash attendant and member of the Joint Task Force (JTF), a local vigilante group, said.
“As a member of a civilian JTF, we're going to ensure no Boko Haram disturb our fun,” Mohamed asserted.
“I will join my colleagues to mount surveillance around the view centers in my area,” he added.
Yunusa Abdullahi, an office attendant, shared a similar opinion.
“Most football fans are JTF members, so I will go there [to a local viewing center] to watch all the matches, except at night,” he said.
On the other hand, owners of viewing centers asserted that various security measures have been put in place to secure trouble-free matches.
“I've already discussed [the security issue] with the youth vigilante [group] in my area,” John Ishaiku, who runs a viewing center, said.
“Three people will be available throughout the tournament to check entrants to the center just a few meters from the gate,” Ishaiku said.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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