Nigerian squad Enyimba describes 'scary' bus attack that left players injured
Enyimba defender Stephen Egbe has described how the club's team bus was attacked by armed robbers on Thursday as they travelled home from a Nigerian league game, leaving forward Cyril Olisema with injuries and others with minor cuts.
The eight-time Nigerian champions were returning to their base in Aba following the conclusion of their NPFL clash away against Adamawa United in Gombe, a match which the visitors won 2-0.
The attack occurred in Okigwe, Imo State, at around 18:45 GMT on Thursday, approximately 830 kilometres into their journey home.
"We were coming back from our league game in Gombe, arriving in Okigwe in Owerri, and we saw some strange fellows on the road," Egbe told ESPN. "We passed them, but I believe they were there to inform the ones further ahead.
"As we proceeded further we saw others again, and some of them were armed," he added. "They were telling us to stop, be as we noticed they were not law enforcement, we told our driver not to stop.
"He sped up and one of them stoned the window with iron, so it broke and injured [Olisema].
Pictures shared on social media by People's Elephant defender Ifeanyi Anaemena showed the players with some minor cuts and in a state of distress.
"Enyimba players [have been] robbed right now in Okigwe road," he posted on Facebook, moments after the attack. "Players injured but no life lost.
"We are still on the road from Gombe, [League Management Committee] please hear the cry of NPFL players about our travelling."
A video filmed by the defender in the immediate aftermath of the incident shows bus windows smashed, while Olisema, who had scored in the victory over United, appears to have suffered lacerations to the head and leg.
The players also retrieve the remnants of what appears to be a gun which was used to smash the window.
"We drove away as fast as possible," Egbe added. "It was very, very scary."
Defender Timothy Danladi, who was not with the team, is thankful that things were not significantly worse for his teammates, but believes Enyimba shouldn't have been travelling at that time of night.
"It's bad to travel at that time," he told ESPN. "The state where we played was far away, it would have been good for us to have slept in Abuja or Enugu so that we'd have had peace of mind rather than this situation.
"I feel bad and confused, but glory be to God that nobody got so badly injured."
In late November, the team bus of Ifeanyi Ubah, another Nigerian team, was also attacked by armed robbers, while Enyimba themselves were the victims of a similar incident in Kogi State in 2016.
In the aftermath of the 25th round of matches, the NPFL was suspended amidst measures to stem the coronavirus outbreak, with Nigeria having confirmed their first case on February 27.