The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has sent a protest letter to the Confederation of African Football, CAF, after Gabonese authorities barred the Nigerian U-17 National Team from entering Gabon apparently over Ebola fears.
The incident occurred Friday in Lome, Togo, as Nigerian players and officials were asked to disembark from a Libreville – 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, members of the team were issued boarding passes on the ASKY Airline flight from Cotonou to Libreville, via Lome, only to be told the trip be suspended.
The team had 18 players and six officials, led by NFF Chief Technical Officer, Siji Lagunju, an ex – international player.
Members of the team said they shocked when the airline informed them that Gabonese authorities had instructed that they be leave the aircraft and their luggage offloaded.
In a protest letter signed by NFF General Secretary, Musa Amadu, the NFF said “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 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 letter said.
The Nigeria Football Federation expressed disappointment at the attitude of the Gabonese authorities and urged CAF to probe the matter.