Three-time champions Super Eagles have been drawn to play Guinea and debutants Madagascar and Burundi in a tricky Group B of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The colourful draw ceremony, which took place behind the historical Giza Pyramids, had ex-Ghana captain now CAF Assistant Secretary-General Anthony Baffoe in charge of the event, with other African football greats Ahmed Hassan, Yaya Toure and El Hadji Diouf assisting him.
The tournament takes place from June 21 to July 19.
Nigeria were among the six seeded teams in Pot A following the release of the draw procedures by the Confederation of African Football on Thursday.
The other five seeded teams are Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco and Cameroon.
Guinea, who picked silver ahead of Nigeria at the 1976 AFCON in Ethiopia, are making their 12th appearance with Nigeria going for their 18th appearance.
Group A has hosts Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe, while Senegal, Algeria, Kenya and Tanzania are in Group C.
In Group D, Namibia face an uphill task against former champions Morocco, Ivory Coast and South Africa in what is seen as the group of death.
Group E will have Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania and Angola battling, while current champions and five-time winners Cameroon, four-time winners Ghana, Benin and Guinea-Bissau are in Group F.
Edema Fuludu, a winner of the AFCON in 1994, described Group B as an easy pool the Eagles should take advantage of.
“I see no reason why the Eagles shouldn’t come out tops of that group,” Fuludu said.
“They say big names don’t play football anymore but I don’t see the likes of Burundi and Madagascar constituting an obstacle to the Eagles’ chances in Egypt.
“Going by our current FIFA ranking and our achievements in the competition, it’s an easy group for the Eagles.”
Before the draw ceremony, Eagles coach Gernot Rohr was happy to avoid record winners and hosts Egypt.
“We are in the same pot, so we cannot meet Egypt. Because when you play the host country, it’s always very difficult,” Rohr stated in a short video interview posted on the Confederation of African Football’s Twitter handle.
“It becomes more difficult when you have a team like the one you have here in Egypt.”
The last time the Eagles competed at the tournament in 2013, they emerged champions but were absent in the last two editions in 2015 and 2017.
The Eagles first won the AFCON title in 1980 on home soil before Dutchman, Clemens Westerhof, led the country’s golden generation to another triumph in 1994 in Tunisia.
Killing of Sound Engineer: Sanwo-Olu Bans OKada Operation in Lagos
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has placed an indefinite ban on commercial motorcycles popularly called Okada operations across six Local Governments after a sound engineer, David Imoh, was allegedly lynched and burnt to death over N100 in Lekki axis of the state.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the Lagos Police Command and other security agencies have been placed on the alert to commence enforcement of the ban beginning from June 1, 2022.
The six local governments where their operations were outlawed by the governor include: Ikeja, Surulere, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island, and Apapa axis of the state.
Sanwo-Olu, who described Imoh’s death as unfortunate, stated that the ban was to ensure that such incident would not repeat itself and that it was in the best interest of Lagosians.
The governor, who gave the order to all Divisional Police Officer (DPOs) and Area Commanders across the State on Wednesday, at the Lagos House, Ikeja, noted that other security agencies would join in the enforcement of the order in all areas indicated.
Earlier before the ban, the Chairman of Lagos State Taskforce, CSP Shola Jejeloye was said to have stormed the Lekki axis in a sting operation where 123 motorcycles were seized for flouting the State Traffic laws of operating on restricted routes and plying the State’s Highways.
Jejeloye emphasized that as part of the agency’s effort to clamp down on uncooperative and killer okada operators in the state, it would continue with its mob up exercise to rid Lekki axis and the entire State of unscrupulous Okada operators who have refused to heed the sound of warning and carried on with their illegal operations.
“This operation will be a continuous one not just in Lekki but in every other part of the State, and we will make sure that their activities are truncated till they abide by the rules. They will never be above the law no matter how large their numbers are” he said.
The chairman further urged residents of the state to join efforts with the Government in ensuring that the fight to restore and maintain sanity on Lagos Roads is won collectively in order to improve security.
FG Amends Charges Against Nnamdi Kanu, Indicts Lawyers
The Federal Government has once again amended the charges against the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
A counsel for the IPOB leader, who made this known also said the Federal Government listed some lawyers representing Nnamdi Kanu as accomplices of the defendant.
Among the lawyers said to be indicted by the Federal Government are Ifeanyi Ejiofor and Maxwell Opara.
The IPOB legal team member said the government claimed that the indicted lawyers were constantly in contact with Nnamdi Kanu after he allegedly jumped bail and fled the country.
Nnamdi Kanu, who is at the Federal High Court, Abuja, is expected to be re-arraigned on the fresh charges.
Presidency Blasts Northern Elders Forum, Describes Body As ‘So-Called’
The presidency, on Tuesday, slammed the Northern Elders Forum for what it called “delusional arrogance” over its call for some sections of the country to secede, referring the forum as ‘so-called’
According to a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the presidency insisted that only democratically elected leaders can take decisions that steer the nation, and no one else.
The statement was titled “Statement on the call by ‘Northern Elders Forum’ asking a section of the country to leave the federation.”
It read in part, “We are aware of the latest statement from the so-called ‘Northern Elders Forum.’
“We wish to reassure Nigerians that it remains their democratically elected leadership which takes the decisions that steer our nation–and no one else.
“No self-appointed and unelected group can take this right from Nigerians – no matter how much coverage they might enjoy in the media. Nigerians listen to elected leaders, not opinionated tin-gods who have no traction with any responsible group.
“It is a delusional arrogance that would lead such a group to publicly state terms and conditions for the existence of our nation.
“Who gave them the right to ask for the exclusion, or expulsion of any one, group or section of the country from the Federal Republic of Nigeria?”
The presidency noted that the Nigerian government does not take guidance or invitations from such groups–only from the Nigerian people who put governments in office.
It said while any group can refer to itself as “leaders”, the government will not recognise it as such “if you have not been elected by Nigerians to a leadership role.”
The statement further noted that like many other countries around the world, Nigeria is feeling the strain of the current period of volatility and uncertainty.
Therefore, “Now is not the time to seek to exacerbate divisions amongst Nigerians. Rather, we call on all Nigerians to come together and work to overcome the challenges we face as one nation, one people.”