Family Of Nigerian Footballer Who Died In Belarus Cries Out

Kelvin Odenigbo

June 18, (THEWILL)- The family of the young Nigerian footballer, Kelvin Odenigbo, who received the unfortunate news of his demise this month after he moved to the Belarusian top side FC Vitebsk in March, have been asking for closure about the circumstances surrounding his passing.

As THEWILL reported, the announcement of Odenigbo’s death claimed that the body was found in the Beloye Lake in the Vitebsk region while club doctors said an autopsy found “no violent marks on the body and there are no traces of alcohol in Kelvin’s blood.”

It has been almost two weeks and the Odenigbo family are still in the dark as to the exact details of the incident which his brother, Ebuka, a Kano Pillars footballer, found disturbing knowing his late brother, who could not swim, usually avoided water bodies completely.

The pain of their loss coupled with the lack of clarity has made it a tough situation for the family, as another of Kelvin’s brothers, Jude, clearly noted: “It has been an extremely difficult time and the family is not happy with the way his death is being handled in Belarus.”

“We have no access to a detailed report about how he ended up in a lake and what happened.”

Jude questioned the facts about what the family was told occurred: “(We are told) He was with his teammates when the incident happened, he never left their sight and right now we don’t know what led to his death.

“Who was with him? How did he end up in a lake? Who were the last people to see him? Was there a fight, disagreement or anything that happened? These are the information that could help shed more light on what happened to Kelvin.

“We only read on the internet that there was an autopsy report but so far they have not shared it with us.”

Meanwhile, over there at Vitebsk efforts are being made to repatriate the body of Odenigbo to his native country while also providing a more concrete fact-finding detail of the incidence of Kelvin’s last moments and death.

An official involved in the process who spoke to the British Broadcasting Commission on the condition of anonymity explained: “We spoke to his agent to give us time because we are waiting for the Nigerian high commission for the right documents.”

The delay and questionable account of the circumstances surrounding Odenigbo’s death have raised eyebrows even beyond the circle of the dead Nigerian’s immediate family as Odenigbo’s manager in Nigeria, Eddy Ofere, picked holes in the official version of his client’s death:

“I spoke with Kelvin on Friday 5th of June at 16:08 for two minutes and 11 seconds. It was a bit loud when he called and he told me that he was at a hangout with his teammates, because it was a free day for the players. We chatted about how he should keep up the hard work and fully establish himself in the starting XI.

“By Saturday afternoon I got a message from my partner [an agent] based in Belarus saying he’s been informed that Kelvin was in coma and on oxygen. He said we should all pray for him to pull through.

“It’s shocking to then read on the website that his body was found in a lake. How is that possible? From being in coma and on oxygen to ending up drowned in a lake.

“Something just isn’t right about that version and we would all appreciate the truth about what really happened to Kelvin.”

Although the chairman of the Nigerian community in Belarus, Princely Olisa, said he and officials of the country’s high commission in the region were working to get answers for the family, Jude was disappointed in the apparent nonchalance of the Nigerian embassy in Moscow, responsible for the country’s affairs in Belarus, over the death of a Nigerian citizen in their jurisdiction.

He expressed his pain in words: “We’ve been waiting [since his death] for them to act swiftly, but their response has been slowly disappointing.

“Now we have no closure, something happened to a Nigerian [Kelvin] since June 5 and it’s still dragging on. We have mandated that his body should be brought to Enugu International Airport in Nigeria.

“The family is calling on the Nigerian government, well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians to come to our aid in our quest for the truth.”