Pictures: Benue FA board cry out over take over, abandoned structures on Otukpo township stadium ground  

The new executive board of Benue State Football Association (BSFA) has demanded the return of ancient Township Stadium in Otukpo to enable teams regain their training and playing ground.

Led by its Chairman, Barr. Paul Edeh, the enitre FA comprising the board, affiliates and other stakeholders made the crucial demand when they stormed the then football ground.

Coincidentally, the youths of the area who are eager to reclaim their playing pitch which was allegedly taken by the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), a federal government agency, gathered in protest.

While they protested, the FA board in unison walked round and prayed to God to grant them their heart desire, just as they appealed to the state government for its intervention.

Speaking, a former popular Benue state-born player, Mr. Eugene Agaigbe, expressed sadness over the state of the pitch which has been turned to an abandoned building site.

Agaigbe who also played for Lobi Stars of Makurdi said, “I feel very bad and disappointed when I came around after many years to see that this place has been turned to another thing entire. I played here as far back as 1988/89 and later I came back to play for Obeya Babes in 1991.

“Throughout my football career, this is where I made my name. Now that I’m a coach I feel very bad because I should have taken my team to play on this same ground.”

A former councillor in the area, Hon Francis Ijiga, said, “This land from early 80s was designated as the township stadium in Otukpo. At that time, many clubs from within and outside Otukpo use to train and play competition football here.

“The ground produced many football stars we heard of in the past. Unfortunately, in the early 90’s, the land was taken over by other people and they converted and later abandoned it as against the original plan by the government that approved it as a football pitch.

Also speaking, BSFA board member and former organising secretary of Otukpo Local Government Area, Mr. Godwin Oyiagba who revealed that NCC took over the place in over two decades ago with a promise to provide an alternative venue for the township stadium said, “this is the only stadium we have in Idoma land where I personally raised a team and that same team got to the National division one league.”

A former match commissioner and current BSFA Vice Chairman Alex Awunah said, “I have commissioned matches here in late 80s and early 90s. This ground is very strategic for youth of Otukpo and Benue state in general.”

On his part, the FA board chairman, Barr. Edeh said, “The bible instructed that no one should take away the ancient landmark. The take over of the township stadium is a clear indication that the ancient landmark has been moved.

“Teams especially in Otukpo don’t have any place to train or play. They have been relegated to use primary and secondary schools and most times they are not granted permission. 

“We have come to reclaim the land… look at the youths roaming the streets, they want to make a name for themselves but they can’t because there’s no place to use for training. Infact, the last Ratels, Benue football league which held few weeks ago, no team from Otukpo participated because they don’t have a place to train, let alone registering to participate. 

“Just as his Royal Majesty said, the children who are birthed now are the ones who will reap from the legacies we will leave behind. I can assure you that nothing can be done with this abandoned building project anymore. The building is not more significant than having a football pitch here.

“There’s no land that one can get for a township stadium that is as Central and strategic as this location.”

The township stadium was then located around city centre in Otukpo

The FA board had visited the Paramount Ruler of Idoma Land, His Royal Majesty Dr. John Odogbo Elaigwu on a courtesy call.