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Axe falls again on previously banned Imamu Maliki, referee of Bendel Insurance versus Remo Stars match




Imamu Maliki Umar of Kano  who refereed the Bendel Insurance versus  Remo Stars on Sunday has been sidelined alongside the assistant referee Sunday Azi from Plateau State.

Both are among the 14 referees that are being sanctioned in the current Nigeria Premier League.

Last year, the NFF banned the same referee for two years, but surprisingly has made a return before the expiration of the ban.

On July 8, 2022, in a match between Niger Tornadoes FC Vs. Lobi Stars FC  the NFF  Committee ruled that Imam Malik Umar was  banned from all football related activities for two  years.


On Sunday in Benin, back-in-action  Imamu Maliki  belatedly ruled a foul throw that preceded the goal by Remo Stars after his assistant referee Sunday Azi from Plateau State raised his flag after almost five passes of the ball that eventually resulted into the controversially disallowed goal.

Both officials are among the 14 referees that have now been benched.

Their poor performances ruled the media space and apparently prompted the Referee Development Unit of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to act.

In aftermath, the axe has fallen on 14 referees. Incidentally, matches involving Niger Tornadoes had the most recurring controversial refereeing.

In seven matches in which referees were sanctioned,  three involved Niger Tornadoes.


In their Matchday 2 home match with Rivers United, Referee Bawa Buhari of Gombe has been sanctioned. So also are referee Chukuka Jahlove of Anambra State and Assistant Referee Akinwale Tomiwa of Oyo State, both officials in Niger Tornadoes home game against Bayelsa United on Matchday 4.

Their Matchday 5 duel with Sporting Lagos also had controversial officiating leading to the sanctioning of Assistant Referee II, Zechariah Nde of Delta State.

Also under the hammer are Referee Saeed Abdulaziz of Katsina State and Assistant Referee Jimmy Aimugbonrie of Edo State who handled the Gombe United versus Plateau United Matchday 5 match.

Perhaps the most controversial officiating decision was in the Kwara United home game with Sporting Lagos when a penalty kick was awarded even when the ‘offending’ player had his hands at his back while the ball hit him just above his torso.

The officials sanctioned are Referee Brown Ebenezer of Abia State and Assistant Referee Atuwho Morrison of Delta State.


In the Matchday 6 of the Sunshine Stars versus Abia Warriors, all unnamed four match officials are sanctioned.

The memo conveying the sanctioning was sent to the Chief Operating Officer of the Nigeria Premier League by the Referee Development Unit of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.