Former Super Eagles captain, Nwankwo Kanu has received emotional words of sympathy from the president of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, following reports that the ex-player’s Hardley Hotel Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos is under litigation.
Kanu visited the property on Tuesday, less than a week after he attended the African Football Awards ceremony in Dakar, Senegal, only to find the premises burgled and ransacked.
Kanu alleged further that all his football awards, Olympics medal and other memorable items have been stolen from the hotel, which he said was meant to be under seal after the legal dispute began in 2015.
In his reaction, Pinnick said the invaders have considered the charitable works of Kanu, who is helping Nigerians with heart defects to overcome their medical conditions, years after he brought honour to the country.
Pinnick lamented: “Our superstar and former captain is in intense pain at this period, and we empathise with him.
“This is a tragedy. Losing precious possessions like medals, trophies and plaques can be heartbreaking.
“We respectfully call on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to work hard at unraveling the perpetrators of these nefarious act.
“Kanu worked very hard from a humble beginning to accumulate whatever he has today and to earn those precious valuables.
“Kanu brought immense joy and celebration to many homes across Nigeria, Africa and the world, while playing for the Nigeria U17 team that won the FIFA World Cup.
“The U23 team that he captained to Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996 and the Super Eagles for which he featured at three FIFA World Cup finals.
“He also served several top clubs in world football, giving them and their fans nothing but immeasurable joy.
“He has also been spending heavily, through his Kanu Heart Foundation, in getting medical attention for young Africans with heart defects to be cured and live normal lives.
“He does not deserve this cruel fate. Our confidence in the police and other security agencies to hunt down these criminals is unshaken.
“We stand with Kanu at this low moment and we believe he will overcome and put the sad incident behind him soonest.”
Pinnick spoke a day after Kanu appealed for a peaceful resolution of the prolonged litigation that has left his hotel sealed, as he says it is one of the major sources of financial support for his charity.
‘Papilo’ was close to tears, as he lamented how the hotel has been shut by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) since 2015, over allegations of debts, but the ex-soccer star says is it is a legal investment that finances his human angle project, Kanu Heart Foundation.
Kanu went on to appeal to the federal government to intervene in the matter, as he believes his position as a former footballer who brought glory to Nigeria and still remains an ambassador of the game should be respected, especially as he opted to return home with some investment.
He opined that ex-players should be respected and supported once they return home after their playing days, especially when they put something back into the country’s economic and social structures.
Kanu retorted: “People are saying we should have something for the future after we stop playing football.
“They say we should bring something back to the country as investment after we retire, so that we will not become useless in future.
“That’s what I have done, but see what it has brought for. I gave my best for this country and I am still an ambassador, but I am not being encouraged with what is happening to my investment.
“This is a property that helps me in supporting my heart foundation financially, so that we will not have to disturb people all the time.
“We are talking about charity, and this is one of the main sources of financial support we rely on for the foundation.
“I am surprised that some people have even started taking over the place; but the case is still in court and we are expected to continue on January 31.
“At the same time, many of the things I won while playing were in there, but we cannot find them anymore.
“I want the government to help me get them back, my Olympics meal and the Olympic Torch, they are all gone.
“I was hearing the story before now, so I said let me come and see for myself, and what I have seen does not make me happy. In fact, I am sad.”