September 12, 2014 – The Nigeria Football Federation has sent a strong letter of protest to the Confederation of African Football over Friday’s unsavoury incident in Lome, which saw Gabonese authorities disembark members of the U-17 National Team delegation from a Gabon –bound ASKY Airline flight.
Having flown from their base in Calabar to Lagos and travelled by road from Lagos to Cotonou as a result of the cancellation of all Gabon –bound flights from Lagos, the delegation members were issued boarding passes on the ASKY Airline flight from Cotonou to Libreville, via Lome, only to be subjected to the harsh treatment after landing in the Togolese capital.
A team of 18 players and six officials, led by NFF Chief Technical Officer, Siji Lagunju, an ex –international player, were dumbstruck when the airline informed them that Gabonese authorities had instructed that they be offloaded from the aircraft alongside their luggage.
The protest letter signed by NFF General Secretary, Barrister Musa Amadu, read inter alia: “On getting to Lome, our delegation Members were disembarked and their luggage brought out of the aircraft, and told that they would no longer be flown to Libreville, on the orders of Gabonese Authorities.
“We strongly protest this harsh, unkind and unfair treatment of players below the age of 17, who have had to go through this arduous and tiring journey only to further their career in football. We are very much aware that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has stated clearly that football matches should not to take place in only three countries, namely Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, as a result of the Ebola Virus Disease pandemic.
“Our players have taken serious precautions and even have Ebola –free Medical Certificates. The Nigeria Football Federation is sorely disappointed by this attitude of Gabonese authorities and we implore CAF to come into this matter and determine the issue of the qualifying fixture.”