Tributes have been flowing in from members of the Nigeria Basketball Federation after receiving the sad news of the sudden demise of Michael Olalekan Ojo.

According to an official release by his club, Crvena Zvezda of Serbia, Ojo slumped after training and died shortly afterward.

Leading the tribute is NBBF President, Engr Musa Kida who bemoaned the sudden demise of the 27 year old.

" This is another flower that unexpectedly withered at such a time it was expected to start blossoming.

" After a sterling College career in the United States of America and after securing a professional deal in Belgrade, it is so sad that the basketball world has been robbed of this emerging talent who has been described as one of the tallest to play basketball in Serbia."

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In his own reaction, the Federation's Vice President, Babs Ogunade said, "I met with him in February at the FIBA Women' Olympic qualifying tournament in Serbia. I watched his match against Partizan Basketball. He was such a calm and unassuming personality”.

The North Central Representative on the board, Isah Umah described the late centre, who won the 2019 Serbian Professional League with Crvena as humble and hard working.

Umar who was D'Tigers Team Manager when the team was preparing for the 2011 FIBA Afrobasket when Ojo was invited to the National team revealed that he was a true Nigerian who bled green and white.

" He was excited to be part of team Nigeria and gave his best at such a young age. He did not make the final cut, but he was excited to have a chance to play for his fatherland”.

During the 2019–20 season, Ojo appeared in 22 EuroLeague games with Crvena zvezda, averaging 4.1 points and 3 rebounds per game while appearing in about 108 games for his club before his untimely demise as teams were preparing for life after the covid-19 global lockdown.

The Federation prayed to God to comfort his family, friends, close associates and the entire basketball family as they come to terms with this heart-breaking news.

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The management of a wholly Nigeria digital television company, Pipul TV, have reaffirmed its commitment to the development of Nigerian football.

Speaking with journalists on Nigeria Sports Centre WhatsApp platform, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Benjamin Okoroafor, remarked that the lull in football activities occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria and other countries of the world, would not dampen the desire of Pipul TV to continue its contributions to Nigerian football.

" We understand our commitments to Nigerian football. And I must tell you that we remain unwavering in that regard,” the highly resourceful ICT expert said.

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" We are partners in the progress and development of Nigerian football. And I want to restate for the records that Pipul TV, as title sponsors of the Nationwide League One (NLO), the most important league in Nigeria, we have dedicated channels to cover and broadcast matches in the NLO to Nigerians through our world-class facilities and equipment, ” Okoroafor added.

It would be noted that Pipul TV have a subsisting broadcast partnership deal with the board of NLO to beam matches of the league to Nigerian homes through its magical and portable decoder box.

" The magic boxes are now available. And I tell you that as soon as a few other necessary issues are tidied up, we shall be ready to bring the games to soccer-loving Nigerians,” he restated.

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The Governor of Oyo State Engineer Oluseyi Makinde has set a promotion target for the management of the Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) ahead of the 202/21 Nigeria National League (NNL) commencing later this year. 

Speaking through the State Commissioner for Youths and Sports Asiwaju Seun Fakorede, Governor Makinde said 3SC's teeming fans and sports loving people of Oyo state expect nothing short of promotion to the elite of the Nigerian League from the Oluyole Warriors. 

The Sports Commissioner was speaking for the Governor at the send forth ceremony held for four retiring personnel of the club at its Jericho Ibadan House. 

Asiwaju Fakorede stated that the send forth was put together to appreciate and reward the retirees who gave their all for the development and glory of 3SC.

We appreciate good works and dedication to duty of these retiring personnel. This is why we're organising this send forth. More of such will be organized to reward hard working and committed personnel of 3SC in future", Asiwaju Fakorede said. 

" His Excellency Governor Seyi Makinde and the sports loving people of Oyo State expect nothing short of promotion from the 3SC when the new NNL season commenced. And this administration will fully support the team in its aspiration to return to the elite division of Nigeria league", the commissioner stated.

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Also speaking at the send forth, the General Manager of 3SC, Alhaji Rasheed Balogun hinted that a novelty match would be held to honour and raise funds for the four retirees. 

" Sincerely, we value your commitment and service to this club. And we are going to organise a novelty match in your honour as soon it's safe to do so. And I'm assuring that all gate fees collected at the match will be given to you", Alhaji Balogun disclosed. 

The four retirees, for whom the send forth was held on Thursday 6th of August 2020, were Mrs Olubunmi Aina (a.k.a Mama Shooting), Alhaji Ganiyu Bello (alias Rondo), Mr Moruf Oladejo (a.k.a Warrior) and Mr Oluwasanjo Ojo. 

Cash rewards and 3SC jerseys were later presented to the retirees at the ceremony graced by club staff, supporters and legends including Mutiu Adepoju, Lateef Yusuf, Edith Agoye and Dimeji Lawal.

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Spanish La Liga side Real Betis showing keen interest and passed up the opportunity to sign 2015 U17 World Cup-winning center back Lukman Zakari on a permanent deal.

The defender Lukman Zakari had strings of impressive performance at Latvian club FK Metta which has really helped his anticipated transfer.

For a central defender, no booking in fifteen appearances for his club in Latvia last summer, he went the distance is unheard of, and proves he is a very disciplined player and knows when to time his tackles accurately.

Excluding performance related variables, there was an option to buy set at one hundred and fifty thousand euros only inserted into the deal taking Zakari to the Andalusian outfit from FK Metta last summer.

The confirmation of Zakari's transfer to Real Betis was held up for several months due to difficulties encountered in obtaining a work permit.

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Just when everything seemed to be okay, the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to footballing activities in Spain, and he is departing Betis without making his competitive debut.

Real Betis chiefs admitted during Zakari's exit interview that he was unlucky at the club and they will continue to monitor his development with a view to a future swoop for his signature.

The 21-year-old is believed to be on the radar of Israeli and Turkish clubs in the summer transfer window but there's nothing concrete yet.

Under the tutelage of ex-Barcelona winger Emmanuel Amuneke, Zakari started every single game as the Golden Eaglets won the U17 World Cup four years ago in Chile alongside Victor Osimhen of Napoli and Samuel Chukwueze of Villareal CF. 

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There has been a recent report filling public space that Imo State Commissioner for Sports directed the Accountant of Heartland, Emma Oparanozie to take charge of the club until a substantive General Manager comes on board.

Oparanozie first task was to direct all the club’s vehicle drivers to sit up or quit following their non-challant attitude displayed in the past handling the vehicles and all management staff should also hand over clubs properties in their possession as directed by the State Government few weeks ago.

According to a press release by Solomon Onu
Director of Media and Communications, he stated that, Heartland Football Club of Owerri Management wish to inform the general public and our darling fans that the Board and management of our Club is intact. 

The number one citizen of our great State  Senator Hope Uzodinma in his magnanimity had directed on 25th day of February 2020 that the Status Quo should remain. Since then, His Excellency have not given a counter directive since February 25th till date.

The powers to set up or dissolution of Boards resides with the Governor. The Commissioner did not do his due diligence and fact finding, thus his actions /purported dissolution was an absolute nullity.

The accountant of the club Mr Oparanozie who came in after Covid-19 struck has been a cog in the wheel of progress of the club by orchestrating crisis.

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The accountant has been involved in clandestine activities aimed at ripping the club off in connivance with some greedy elements who are hell bent on causing chaos.

We can also confirm that the accountant raised a payment voucher to the tune of ten million naira to his benefactors without the knowledge of the management .

The accountant was the brain behind the purported dissolution as he was the one who wrote to the commissioner asking him to dissolve the board in a desperate bid to do the bidding of his pay masters. 

Heartland players and staff are still appealing to the authorities to help settle the backlog of salaries owed the players and staff but it is evident that the accountant and his cohorts care less about the plight of the club and they are intent on sinking our darling club.

We therefore call on the IMO State Commissioner of Finance to call Mr Emma Oparanozie to order for his flagrant abuse of power and maladministration. We appeal to our fans to remain calm as we try to use official channels to mitigate the challenges of the club.
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