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NFF allays fears over rising crime rate in Benin

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has assured fans and other visitors coming to Benin next week to watch the Super Eagles African Cup of Nation (AFCON) qualifier against the Leone Stars of Benin of their safety despite the recent escalation of crime in the host city.

Nigeria will host Sierra Leone in the AFCON qualifier On November 13 at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin. But recent rise in criminal activities in the city has raised anxiety among some football fans, who have called on the security agencies to arrest the situation.

On Thursday, a band of daring armed robbers invaded a popular hotel in the city, ransacked all the rooms for more than four hours without challenge.

According to some media outlets, armed robbers in the Edo State capital are becoming more daring due to the absence of police and other security agents.

A source told The Guardian that since policemen vacated the streets following the EndSARS protests, criminals have moved from carjacking to robbing big hotels in the city.

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“In the latest incident on Thursday, the armed robbers stormed a hotel located at a distance of less than 500 metres from the Edo State Government House, robbed the 13 occupants and staff and still spent some time on a drinking spree,” the source said.

Speaking on the incident, NFF Director of Media, said the information of the attack on a hotel in Benin by armed robbers shows that the Edo State government needs to redouble their security apparatus to protect the Super Eagles players, Sierra Leonean team, administrators, officials and journalists visiting the state for the AFCON qualifier.

“This information is vital because it would give the Edo State government the opportunity to beef up security in the state as the Eagles camp opens for the AFCON qualifier.

“But there is no cause for alarm as I believe all security arrangements will be in place for players and officials.”

Olajire said the NFF would ensure that the players and officials are in their hotel rooms before the curfew begins.

The media director assured Nigerians that playing in an empty stadium as directed by the PTF on COVID-19 will not affect the Super Eagles performance in the game, saying that the players are already used to such situations in their various clubs in Europe.

He added: “The NFF will also not write to the Sierra Leone Football Federation to ban spectators from watching the reverse fixture if the government in Serra Leone allows fans into their stadium.

“On the VAR at the Benin Stadium, I don’t think it would be used on match day because CAF has not been using it in the AFCON qualifiers.

“However, consultations are still being made on the possibility of using the facility.”

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