June 23, 2021

End SARS protest: Ogu calls on Nigeria players to boycott games to ‘make a statement’

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The 32-year-old has urged the Super Eagles not to honour matches following killing of protesters who are calling for an end to police brutality

Nigeria international John Ogu has called on his teammates to boycott their upcoming games in protest against the government.

The three-time African champions will take on Sierra Leone in 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in November.

Recently, there have been huge protests against the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious police unit in Nigeria.

The division has been accused of assaults, illegal detentions and the murder of Nigerian youths and although the unit was disbanded weeks ago, the protest continued unabated as protesters increased their demands, calling for an end to bad governance and poor economic conditions.

On Tuesday, men in military camouflage shot at protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos, killing 12 people, according to Amnesty International, which has generated wide condemnation across the world.

Ogu, who has 26 caps for the Super Eagles, has urged his teammates not to honour Nigeria’s upcoming matches in protest to the incident.

“What is the point in representing the country if this is what the politicians, the people we’re representing, can do to us?” Ogu told the World Football show on BBC World Service radio.

“I feel like this is the best thing to do right now until they get back to their senses and listen to us.

“We want a good government, the police brutality to stop, we want the SARS to stop, we want the killings to stop, we want good laws, we want job opportunities. It’s just crazy.

“I believe most of my colleagues understand where I am coming from, I wish we can do this. There are games coming up and if we boycott these games I’m sure they will know we’ve made a statement.

“I haven’t really spoken to any of my team-mates about this. They feel for the people here, their loved ones, those that have died. I’m sure the players are aware.”

Ogu is currently in Lagos after leaving Saudi Arabian club Al-Adalah in September and has been actively involved in the protest.

“In Lagos, it’s brutal now. Burning banks, cars, police stations. It’s dangerous to go out. The country is a shambles,” he continued.

“I’ve been in the protests six or seven times. It’s always peaceful.

“I don’t know [whether there will be a boycott]. I don’t know what is in the heart of the other boys. I’m sure everyone is thinking about this now. We have a match next month. If this thing continues to next month we won’t play.

“How can I go to the national team to represent my country to represent the government and the people when I think of the lost souls of those who have been killed?”

Ogu was part of the Nigeria national team that finished third at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.