Abuja pitch invasion: Security personnel unprepared to handle crowd, say experts

Abuja pitch invasion: Security personnel unprepared to handle crowd, say experts

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Experts have blamed lack of proper preparation, awareness and education on the part of security operatives for the pitch encroachment and vandalisation of facilities at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday, after Ghana ended Nigeria’s hope of qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Scores of angry fans overpowered security operatives and invaded the main bowl of the stadium, after the final whistle, venting their anger and frustration on anything in sight, including attempting to uproot the grass and damaging the technical area.

The fans had started by booing and pelting Ghana’s players as they celebrated their qualification for the World Cup, as well as some Eagles players who were gutted by the realisation of not attending the Mundial for the first time in 16 years.

Security operatives reacted by firing teargas canisters into the crowd, but it was not enough to sway the angry fans as they continued vandalising property, including cutting off the goalpost net.

Within minutes, operatives ran for their dear lives, leaving the angry fans to have a field day.

Reacting to the incident, former FIFA Security Officer and a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Gideon Akinsola, blamed the situation on lack of proper preparation and orientation of the security officers on ground for the game.

“I wasn’t there, so, I don’t know what plans were put in place for the game. All through my years in the shadows, we never took any chances when it came to security management of matches,” Akinsola, a former NFF board member, said.

“What we usually do is that we arrange security around the stadium, we prepare flyers to educate our fans properly, and we ensure that a few minutes before the end of the match, you must anticipate trouble before it happens, so 15 minutes to the end of the match, the main bowl must be fortified.

“I don’t know if they had mounted troops and dog sections at the stadium.

“You will ensure that 15 minutes before the end of the match, victory or not, you must take charge. As security operatives, you have no business watching matches. Your job is to secure the match by ensuring that officials and players are taken care of.

 “When we have very sensitive matches, even before the deployment of personnel, you must address them and tell them what to expect, but I don’t know if they do that now. They should know that they’re not spectators but protectors before, during and after the game.”

Also speaking on the encroachment, a security expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blamed the violence on lack of preparations on the part of the security personnel.

“The problem was that the operatives did not anticipate the possibility. If they had anticipated the fallout, they would have been better prepared and more daring, but they did not anticipate what happened,” the expert told The PUNCH.

“The security architecture did not provide the possibility for such an embarrassing incident. For a crowd of 60,000 to 70,000 spectators, one would have expected the deployment of not less than 4,000 to 5,000 personnel, but in saner climes, you may not need that much.”

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