The Nigerian national team is scheduled to face their Sierra Leonean counterpart in back-to-back games next month, but those fixtures could be boycotted by Gernot Rohr’s men
Nigerian international John Ogu believes that the best thing the Super Eagles can do to help amplify the voice of the #EndSARS protesters is to boycott the nation’s African Cup of Nations qualifying games against Sierra Leone in November.
Nigerian youths in their thousands took to the streets, every day for almost two weeks, across the country to voice their discontent against police brutality and bad governance.
Several Super Eagles stars, including Victor Osimhen, Simy Nwankwo, and Wilfred Ndidi, have shown support to the protesters with the Italy-based strikers displaying #EndPoliceBrutalityInNigeria inscribed shirts after scoring in the Serie A last weekend.
Even Ogu, presently in Lagos after quitting Saudi Arabian club Al-Adalah in September, has joined in the peaceful protests a few times.
But following the hijacking of the protests by hoodlums, the Lagos state government declared a curfew, which protesters at Lekki and Alausa areas defied.
The government responded by sending military men whose use of brute force led to the death of several protesters, with countless others injured.
The horrific incident has drawn a wide range of backlash from world leaders, influential persons, and a few Nigerian footballers, including Manchester United forward Odion Ighalo.
Ogu, however, wants the anger shown by his international teammates to be channelled into making a clear ‘statement’.
“I believe most of my colleagues understand where I am coming from, I wish we can do this,” the 32-year-old told the World Football show on BBC World Service radio.
“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.
“In Lagos, it’s brutal now. Burning banks, cars, police stations. It’s dangerous to go out. The country is a shambles.
“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?”
Nigeria currently boast six points and lead a group that includes Benin, Lesotho, and Sierra Leone.
A boycott, however, could see the three-time African champions miss the next edition of the Afcon, as well as face other stiff punishments from CAF.