The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has insisted that Joseph Kabungo, the medical doctor from Zambia, died of “cardiac arrest” and not as a result of the stampede at the Abuja stadium.
Kabungo, who was the Confederation of African Football (CAF) doping control officer for the Super Eagles and Black Stars encounter on Tuesday, was pronounced dead in the early hours of Wednesday.
His death was announced a few hours after fans invaded the recently refurbished MKO Abiola Stadium and vandalised facilities in protest of the Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. At least two journalists said they saw Nigerian fans attack the late medic.
But in a statement on Wednesday, the NFF maintained that Kabungo death had nothing to do with the chaos that ensued in the stadium.
The statement said Kabungo was found gasping for breath near the dressing room of the Ghanaian team and was rushed to the hospital where he died.
It added that Onimisi Ozi Salami, the Nigerian who was FIFA’s medical officer for the game, and Dixon Adol Okello, the Ugandan who was FIFA’s security officer for the match, witnessed the incident.
“NFF has expressed shock and sorrow over the death of FIFA/CAF Medical Officer, Dr Joseph Kabungo, who died on Tuesday after the FIFA World Cup playoff match between Nigeria and Ghana at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja. Dr Kabungo was appointed as Doping Control Officer for the match,” the statement read.
“We are terribly shocked at this sad development. The NFF commiserates with world football –body FIFA, the Confederation of African Football, the Football Association of Zambia and the family of Dr Kabungo on his sudden passing. His death pains us very much, and we are in a state of deep shock.
“’However, it is important to state the facts as they are. According to the information from our own medical officer, Dr Onimisi Ozi Salami, who was appointed by FIFA as Medical Officer for the game, Dr Kabungo was found gasping for breath near the dressing room of the Ghanaian team. I was notified and ordered that he should be rushed to the hospital. He didn’t make it. He died just as they got to the hospital,’ NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi said.
“Dr Ozi Salami told thenff.com that the incident happened when he (Dr Salami) was looking to get the Nigerian player for the doping exercise, while Dr Kabungo was looking to get the Ghanaian player for the same exercise.
“I was heading to the dressing room of the Nigerian team when the General Coordinator, Kabore Hubert Bosilong from South Africa, called my attention. Dr Kabungo suddenly started gasping for breath. The FIFA Security Officer for the match, Mr Dixon Adol Okello from Uganda, also witnessed the incident.
“We tried to resuscitate him there and then, but when this did not appear to be working, we put him in an ambulance and rushed him to Cedar Crest Hospital in Apo, where he gave up the ghost. It is a very sad incident, and one is shocked that some persons have been putting a terrible slant to the whole thing by saying he was beaten up by fans. That is a lie. He died as a result of sudden cardiac arrest.
“Officials of the NFF, the medical team and officials of the High Commission of Zambia, held a meeting on Wednesday morning to decide on the next line of action following the demise of Dr Kabungo.”