Abuja - The referees’ committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Thursday in Abuja said the referee who died at the ongoing 2013 Referees’ Fitness Test lied about his health status.
Ephraim Chukwuemeka, the head of the committee’s medical unit, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the referee presented a fake medical certificate for the test.
NAN recalls that Osita Nwadiohashi from Lagos, who officiates in the Nigeria National League (NNL), slumped and died on Wednesday while participating in the test at the Abuja National Stadium.
The test, which began from November 4 and will end on November 8, involves referees officiating in the various tiers of the league.
They were drawn from the six geopolitical zones of the country.
"When he slumped yesterday (Wednesday), we found an inhaler on him. But his medical report did not state that he was asthmatic. If not, we would not have allowed him to run.
"We gave directives that all referees should do their medical tests in their various states and include the report in their forms.
"The tests they are expected to carry out include electro-cardiogram (ECG), to know the state of their heart.
"And, normally, the doctor who certifies the referee will put his/her registration number and practice number, with the stamp of the hospital where he/she operates and personal telephone number(s).
"When they come for the fitness test here, our medical doctors here will test them for blood pressure, before we allow them to run.
"And, I personally checked the medical report in his form where he was proven to be fit to run,’’ Chukwuemeka said.
He added that it was obvious that the deceased tried to dodge the law, and the move later went wrong.
"After the incident, I called the doctor’s telephone number on the deceased form to verify if he/she actually certified him to be fit, but it was not going through.
"I also sent a text message to the same number, but it failed almost immediately I sent it, which proved that the number does not exist,’’ the referees committee official said.
He said the committee had been trying its best to check fraud, but it had all been to no avail.
"It is obvious that the referee in this case circumvented the law and he paid the highest price for it, which is rather unfortunate,’’ Chukwuemeka said.
Ahmed Maude, President of the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA), said the association would investigate the matter further, if it was discovered that a registered medical doctor certified the deceased.
"Although, all efforts to get through to the doctor with the information the deceased supplied was futile, we won’t stop at that.
"We will go further to check if the hospital exists and use that to trace the doctor. But, for now, we are still awaiting the report from the Abuja National Hospital where he was confirmed dead,’’ he said.