Nigeria rubbishes Malawi claims, sends Fifa detailed security guarantee

Nigeria’s Cross River State, in which Malawi will play a World Cup qualifier game on 7th September 2013, has rubbished Football Association of Malawi (FAM) chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda’s claims that the state is insecure and harbours substandard hotels.

“It is common knowledge that Calabar, and indeed Cross River State is the safest and most peaceful state in Nigeria, without any incidences of terrorism,” a statement signed by Patrick Ugbe, Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development to Governor Imoke partly reads.

Ugbe said there has been no travel sanctions issued against the State by any country or organization.

He described FAM claims as  unfounded.

On substandard hotels in Cross River State, Ugbe said “our hotels in Calabar and Cross River State are of World Class standard, which has increasingly attracted conferences and events [both national and international].”

Football Association of Malawi CEO Sugzo Nyirenda  (left) protested to FIFA....Photo Jeromy Kadewere
Football Association of Malawi CEO Sugzo Nyirenda (left) protested to FIFA….Photo Jeromy Kadewere

Meanwhile, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Inspector General of Police of Nigeria have sent to the world football governing body, FIFA, a detailed security guarantee and a reported comprehensive plan for security for next month’s 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against the Flames.

FIFA had written to the Nigeria Football Federation on Monday to provide a letter of security guarantee from the appropriate authority in Nigeria as well as a detailed security plan for the qualifying match.

The development followed FAM request to Fifa  to have the decisive Group F match be moved from Calabar due to security risks in the area.

FAM observed that Calabar, in Cross River State, had been flagged as a high-risk security area by the Commonwealth Commission and requested FIFA to shift the venue of the important game to either Abuja or another neutral country.

But according to Nigeria’s This Day newspaper NFF wrote FIFA providing assurance of adequate security to ensure a conducive environment before, during and after the match scheduled for U. J. Esuene Stadium.

The paper reported that NFF’s Acting General Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme, alongside Secretary of the NFF Security Committee, Dr. Christian Emeruwa, spent the better part of Wednesday at the Force Headquarters perfecting the security guarantee with top officers.

In the letter, NFF also informed FIFA that senior security officers like FIFA National Security Officer in Nigeria would be on duty during the match.

“The 12,000-capacity stadium has hosted several international matches involving Nigeria in the past, including previous 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Namibia and Kenya, as well as 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Rwanda and Liberia,” NFF said in the letter.

The guarantee to FIFA explained that apart from routine police lead escorts and back-up vehicles for both teams and match officials from point of arrival to point of departure, all hotels and training grounds to be used would be adequately fortified.

NFF further explained that adequate security would be provided on match day in the entire vicinity of the stadium and hotels of teams and match officials.

“Anti-bomb squad would be deployed to sweep and maintain all hotels and training pitches, anti-bomb squad would sweep and secure the entire stadium along with police elite squad (Police Mobile Force/Counter Terrorist Unit),” it said.

Next month’s game has assumed some importance as only two points separate the two teams at the top of Group F with the Eagles needing only a draw to reach the 10-team final elimination round while the Flames needing a win.—(Additional reporting by Felie Mzumara, Nyasa Times)

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