25 July 2016
FIFA President Gianni Infantino arrived in Abuja on Sunday on a two-day visit accompanied by Secretary-General Fatma Samoura.
Executive assistants Mattias Grafstrom and Veron Mosengo-Omba were also part of Infantino’s entourage.
They were received on arrival by the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, and by members of the Federation’s executive committee and management staff.
Infantino and Samoura were treated to a brief display by a cultural troupe before they were quickly taken away from the airport arena owing to a rumoured planned disruption of the visit by protesters.
On the sidelines of the airport reception were a few placard-carrying youths who were kept at bay by security men. The security operatives confiscated the protesters placards few minutes before Infantino’s arrival.
The youths looked quite harmless, as their placards bore messages of support for the Pinnick-led NFF.
Security operatives could not stop another anti-Pinnick group of protesters, numbering about 10 that had waited for Infantino and his team at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja, however.
The Hilton Hotel protesters, demanding Pinnick’s resignation over alleged illegal stay in office and incompetence, were led by former Nigeria international Emeka Ezeogu.
They carried placards some of which read: “Infantino – Nigerian football is in shambles”, “Amaju Must Go’ and “President Buhari Save Nigeria Football’’ among others.
Infantino’s visit is his first official appearance in Africa since his election as FIFA president on February 29.
The FIFA President is expected to visit President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday and watch an U-13 exhibition football match at the Abuja National Stadium.
Infantino will return to Switzerland on Monday night, while the Secretary-General will depart Nigeria on Tuesday.