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Nigeria names new sports minister - 2002-05-08

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has named a new sports minister to replace Ishaya Mark Aku, who died in a plane crash May 4th in the northern city of Kano.

President Obasanjo appointed former police affairs minister Steven Ibn Akiga to take over for Aku, who was closely linked with Nigeria's World Cup-bound football team, the Super Eagles.

In February, shortly after the African Nations Cup tournament in Mali, Aku fired Super Eagles coach Shaibu Amodu and replaced him with Adegboye Onigbinde.

The Nigeria Football Association says the Super Eagles have been deeply affected by Aku's death. The sports minister was en route to Lagos to watch the Eagles play Kenya in a friendly World Cup warm-up match. He was one of nearly 150 people killed when the plane crashed shortly after taking off from Kano airport.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Association says a scheduled friendly with Ireland May 16th in Dublin will go ahead as planned. The day after Ishaya Mark Aku was killed, the NFA cancelled Nigeria's World Cup warm-up match with China to honor the late sports minister. The friendly was scheduled for May 11th in China's capital, Beijing.