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Kwara Stadium: An Haven For Immorality On Animal Right Protection, By Aisha Adeshina

Kwara Stadium: An Haven For Immorality On Animal Right Protection, By Aisha Adeshina
November 28, 2022

It’s a Sunday evening in August, the open field adjacent the Kwara Stadium entrance roundabout was brimming with cheers and chants as men nearing 500 looked keenly. Within the human circle were two Rams - Saki and Agaka - wrestling it out for their life.

“What is going on here?" I asked, with confusion written all over me. A grey-bearded man, presumably in his forties, stared at me, as if trying to solve a puzzle, “it's a game. They pitch Rams to fight and it's  the next big show in town," he said.

"They bring them to fight on Sundays, it's an interesting game and a lot of people come here to watch,” he added, taking this reporter on the schedule and plans for the next fight.

Ram fighting is a blood sport between two rams of the same weight category held in an open field. In Nigeria, it has become popular, especially during the muslim festive period. Locals say ram fighting pays off, “compared to just killing them for Sallah.”

Categorised as an act of cruelty, the State Stadium Complex, in the heart of Ilorin, has become a haven for the gross violations of animals’ rights and welfare.

Maltreatment of animals, especially domestics, violates section 207 of the Nigeria penal code. The section states that, “whoever promotes or organises a fight between cocks, rams or other domestic animals shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one or with a fine, which may extend to one thousand naira or with both.”

Even at that, these promoters at the state stadium act in clear violation of the law. They routinely promote and drug these animals for profit 


Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

"It pays us more when we bet on rams, if one is lucky to meet a powerful ram that can wrestle very well," Ajibola, one of the promoters, says with pride. He says he earns more profit when he engages in ram fighting, “ram wrestling business has two purposes, either to resell to gamblers or you keep for gambling".

"I personally, use to purchase ram that can fight, after thoroughly checking the criteria of a fighter ram, nurtured and trained till it fully matures to entice those that use them to gamble in different states and make quadruple of the money, I resell my ram to gamblers from different state".

This pushes most promoters to drug the ram, Ajibola confided in this reporter.

"Some people incise spiritual power in ram's forehead, but I don't believe in that. Some people also give them hard drugs but we don't do that here, aside from medical treatment when needed. ordinarily, once you feed a fighter ram well it will fight naturally". 


What Does  The Law Says

Monsoor AbdulKadir, a legal practitioner in the state, noted that aside from being morally wrong, the law also frowns at the cruelty, “the criminal code which is the governing criminal proceedings referred to penal code in the north (Kwara inclusive) defines the act of organising fight between rams as crime, and specifies punishment for the crime."

"It is only unfortunate that we may not have been able to lay our hands on any scapegoat so far and people are doing it day in and day out. In a city known and referred as Islamic city, ram wrestling is islamically wrong. If not careful one could be given a free ticket to hellfire because it is referred to as a "grievious  offence,” he added.

While speaking with Bolakale Mogaji, chairman, Kwara Sport Commission, he reiterated the commission’s efforts to ensure that the promoters are made to face the wrath of the law. “We have made a series of efforts to the extent of liaising with the police at B-division to help us make sure they don't come here to wrestle again."