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Victorious Super Falcons detained at Abuja airport by NCDC over COVID-19 tests

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PLAYERS and officials of Nigeria’s national women’s football team the Super Falcons complained of frustration after they were detained for hours by airport security and officials of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) upon their return to the country in the early hours of Thursday.

The Super Falcons had just qualified for the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations after defeating Cote d’Ivoire in Abidjan on Wednesday.

But, upon their return to Nigeria in the early hours of Thursday, members of the team were detained at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, over COVID-19 tests.

Some of the players were seen crying from exhaustion in a video circulating on the social media.

Super Falcon’s coach Wandy Waldrum, who noted that the team had taken the test recently, described the situation as frustrating.

“This is very frustrating, we had a two-hour flight from Ivory Coast and we have been in this room for almost two and a half hours.

“It is very frustrating to come back home and the players have to go through this. This is nonsense, we have already taken the test multiple times to be able to play the game, so I don’t really understand it, but it is very frustrating,” he said.

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In another video seen by The ICIR, an official of the Super Falcons accused NCDC officials of conniving with airport authorities to collect bribes from the team before issuing COVID-19 clearance.

“This is a national embarrassment. NCDC connived with the airport security to lock all the doors. They are demanding for N79,000 which is not justifiable. This practice must stop. Your officials are asking people to pay bribe before they pass,” he said.

The ICIR reached out to a spokesperson of the NCDC Emeka Oguanuo on the issue, but he did not respond to calls or text messages as at the time of filing this report.

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Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via vopara@icirnigeria.org or @ije_le on Twitter.

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