Dec 13, 2017 Last Updated 12:40 PM, Dec 13, 2017

Fifa has punished Nigeria for using an ineligible player in their final World Cup qualifier against Algeria in November.

The match in Constantine originally ended in a 1-1 draw but that has now been overturned and Algeria awarded a 3-0 win.

The sanction does not affect Nigeria's World Cup qualification as they had already clinched a place in Russia before the Algeria tie.

Abdullahi Shehu played the whole match against Algeria even though he should have been suspended for picking up yellow cards in two previous qualifiers.

The defender was cautioned in the Super Eagles 1-0 win over Zambia in October that sealed Nigeria's spot in Russia, having been shown a yellow card in the first leg of their second round tie against Swaziland in November 2015.

The Nigeria Football Federation has also been fined US$6,000 for the oversight.

It means that Nigeria still finish top of Group B but with 13 points instead of 14 while Algeria's total at the bottom is now four rather than 2 points.

The UN has warned of a rise in trafficking of the synthetic opioid tramadol across West Africa, as one official revealed it is being found in the pockets of suicide bombers.

Seizures of the drug have skyrocketed since 2013, from 300kg (660lb) to more than three tonnes a year, the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.

In September, three million pills in UN-logoed boxes were found in Niger.

The opioid is known to be popular with Islamist militants Boko Haram.

The pills - which can be legally prescribed as painkillers - are thought to be used to calm the would-be attackers, with the Guardian previously reporting the terrorist group stuff it into dates which they then feed to chilfren before sending them to their deaths. 

Some 600,000 pills bound for the group were seized on the Nigeria-Cameroon border in August.

Pierre Lapaque, the UNODC's West and Central Africa representative, warned the situation could not be allowed to "get any further out of control", as it continues to undermine global security.

"Tramadol is regularly found in the pockets of suspects arrested for terrorism in the Sahel, or who have committed suicidal attack," Mr Lapaque said.

"This raises the question of who provides the tablets to fighters from Boko Haram and al-Qaeda, including young boys and girls, preparing to commit suicide bombings."

The UNODC says the abuse of the drug - usually smuggled from Asia through the Gulf by criminal gangs - is escalating into a major health crisis in the Sahel, particularly in northern Mali and Niger, with sub-Saharan Africa's young population potentially providing traffickers with an even larger market.

One woman in northern Mali told the agency she regularly saw children little older than 10 walking around "after taking or being given pills in their tea in order to help reduce their feeling of hunger".

People taking the drug illegally are thought use a dose up to five times higher than usual medical prescriptions, the UNODC added.

The president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, has said that it will now concentrate on helping the women's team.

He was reacting to criticism that the Super Falcons have not played or trained since lifting the Women's Africa Cup of Nations a year ago.

Desire Oparanozie, who scored the winner in last December's final, labelled the NFF efforts as "pathetic".

Pinnick apologised and admitted shortcomings by the federation as they focussed on the men's team.

"I apologise to them publicly - we have been trying to intensify our efforts in rebuilding the Super Eagles [Nigeria's men's team] which we have done," he told BBC Sport.

"Now we have secured the services of a foreign coach from America [Randy Waldrum] who is going to resume next week.

"We have lined up a couple of matches for them and I have apologised to them because the truth is we wanted to concentrate on the [World Cup] qualifiers [for the men] which was quite intense."

Oparanozie was upset about the lack of action for the African champions ahead of the qualifiers for next year's Nations Cup in Ghana, which will also decide the continent's teams for the 2019 Women's World Cup.

"It's quite pathetic because the Nations Cup and the World Cup is round the corner and all the other African teams are stepping up their preparations playing friendly games," she told BBC Sport.

"But we as the defending champions have not really done anything to really show we want to stay up there.

"There have been no matches there hasn't been any form of regrouping, no games played - nothing at all.

"I am really concerned because to win the tournament you have to set up a good preparation, you have to recruit the girls, you have to make plans for camps.

"We have been sleeping all this while and other teams have been away doing all the necessary and doing what they should do. So I am very worried that next year's Nations Cup is going to be very tough for us."

She also bemoaned a lack of communication from the NFF.

"I don't know the NNF's plans. The communication is just not there," she complained.

"For me personally I got to know about the [new coach's appointment] on the internet I wasn't informed by any member of the federation. The only person I got to discuss a bit about it was the team captain and she also read about it on the internet.

Pinnick hit back at the claims and insisted the federation does keep an eye on all its players.

"If they want to find out things they shouldn't go to the social media, they have their secretary, they have head of the female department," he explained.

"But they just go on air to speak which is very wrong and I told Asisat [Oshoala] that when she came to see me because if you are doing that you are chasing our sponsors away - they will look at us as if we are not responsible.

"We have been monitoring all of them. all their various clubs, all their movement. It was not good enough but at least we have players in the big leagues all over the world."

Top of Form

Nigerian migrants stranded in Libya and elsewhere will be bought home, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.

The decision comes after the emergence of footage showing migrants being sold at slave auctions in Libya. 

 Mr Buhari said they were being treated like goats, and vowed to do everything possible to prevent more Nigerians making the perilous journey to Europe.

The announcement was made hours after Libya's UN-backed authorities said they were increasing repatriation flights.

About 240 Nigerians were voluntarily flown home in a joint operation by Libya and the UN migrant agency on Tuesday night.

The plight of those trapped in Libya - a major hub for migrants attempting to reach Europe - was highlighted by the footage, published by US news network CNN, which shows young men being auctioned for farm work.

The issue of people attempting to enter Europe illegally was already expected to be high on the agenda of this week's African Union-European Union Summit, being held in the Ivorian city of Abidjan.

Mr Buhari, who was speaking on the sidelines of the summit, said he was appalled by what he had seen.

"Some Nigerians [in the footage] were being sold like goats for few dollars in Libya," Mr Buhari said during the address to the Nigerian diaspora on Tuesday, before lashing out at Libya.

''After 43 years of [Col Muammar] Gaddafi, why are they recruiting so many people from the Sahel including Nigerians?" he demanded. "All they learned was how to shoot and kill. They didn't learn to be electricians, plumbers or any other trade."

Mr Buhari promised those who returned would be "rehabilitated", and vowed to tackle corruption, defeat groups like Islamist militants Boko Haram and improve things like education to stop Nigerians leaving in the first place.

"For people to cross the Sahara desert and Mediterranean through shanty boats… we will try and keep them at home," he said.

Exactly how the Nigerian government plans to enact the repatriation of its citizens is not clear.

The home of the founder of Nigeria's Islamist militant group Boko Haram is to be turned into a museum, in the hope it will boost tourism in the area.

Borno State is also considering plans to transform the Sambisa forest - the group's base - into a tourist centre.

But critics say the plans risk immortalising founder Mohammed Yusuf.

About 20,000 people have been killed in Boko Haram's eight-year insurgency, with dozens still dying in deadly attacks on a regular basis.

"They should look for a place like the police college, which the group destroyed," human rights lawyer Anthony Agholahon told the BBC's Pidgin Service.

"They should not be using the house of someone who killed people."

Boko Haram's founder Mohammed Yusuf began the group in 2002, focusing on opposing Western education.

It was not for another seven years that it launched its military operations in an attempt to create an Islamic state.

The same year, Yusuf was killed in police custody.

Since then, the group, which officially is called Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, meaning "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad", has spread into neighbouring countries.

However, the Nigerian government says it is winning the war against the group, and it seems officials in Borno state, one of the worst affected areas, are looking to the future.

Mohammed Bulama, Borno state commissioner for home affairs, information and culture, told reporters the house in Maiduguri would become a museum "where all the things that had happened relating to the insurgency will be archived".

"We want to document and archive all that had happened so that our future generation will be able to have first hand information," he said, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

He added they hoped to restore the Sambisa forest, where the Chibok girls were kept after being kidnapped in 2014, back into a game reserve.

"What we intend to do when stability is fully achieved is to convert the forest into a tourist centre in order to show the world what has happened," he said.

 

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