The 2016 edition of the annual Mark D’Ball Basketball tournament scheduled to run from December 26 to 31 in Otukpo, Benue State, has been suspended due largely to off the court political intrigues and power play in the area.
Convener of the championship, Igoche Mark, said the decision to put the annual sports and entertainment fiesta on hold was borne out of an order of interim injunction granted one Edwin Owoicho by the High Court of Benue State, sitting in Makurdi, on December 16, 2016.
The court ordered the Mark Sports Foundation to stop staging the event pending the determination of the motion before the court in January 16, 2017.
Though Mark said the reason for the order was yet to be ascertained, he added that as law-abiding citizens, they were inclined to comply and allow the judicial process take its full course.
“We are adamant and unflinching in our convictions that sports remains a tool to check youth restiveness and involvement in vices. This has been one of the cardinal objectives of this tournament….this sinister action is unarguably a cruel dagger to the heart of the people of Benue State, especially the youths and children who dream and look forward to this annual event,” he said.
Mark D’ Ball Basketball, an annual international sports showpiece, has hitherto helped to put the sleeping town of Otukpo, the traditional and political headquarters of the Idomas, on the world basketball map, priding itself as the most sought-after holiday destination for sports and music-lovers in Nigeria and beyond during the week long championship.
Mark said the tournament, sanctioned by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), is a non-political, non-partisan and non-profit venture, sponsored by the former Senate President, David Mark. He said this year star players like Ike Diogu, Tunji Awojobi and Ejike Ugboaja, among others, were to hit Otukpo.
“As a fall out from our clinic, we were able to raise the winners of the 2014 Milo Basketball Championship and the MVP, Friday Haruna, now plays for the Mark Mentors. We also produced notable players that have made the junior national teams, both male and female.