Friday, 19 January 2018

The new slave trade-human trafficking in Libya is being carried out by many nationalities, including Nigerians and Ghanaians, according to a Cameroonian returnee, who was abducted in the country.

Foka Fotsi, who was trafficked twice, told Reuters that those in charge of one of the places where he was held included Ghanaians and Nigerians. Fotsi story corroborated another testimony by a Nigerian in the southern state of Edo, who identified one Charles, a Nigerian as the trafficking kingpin.

Unable to find work to support his family, Fotsi decided to leave Cameroon last year, but fell into the hands of a Libyan kidnap ring before reaching Europe.

“There was torture like I’ve never seen. They hit you with wooden bats, with iron bars,” he said, removing the hood of his sweatshirt and showing the still raw red wounds on his skull.

“They hang you from the ceiling by (your) arms and legs and then throw you down to the floor. They swing you and throw you against the wall, over and over again, ten times.

“They are not human beings. They are the devil personified.”

Timdi

Christelle Timdi, another Cameroonian recounted her horrendous experience in the north African country.

When uniformed men boarded the overloaded rubber dingy carrying her and her boyfriend to a new life in Europe, she thought the Italian coastguard had come to rescue them.

But the men took out guns and began to shoot. “Many people fell in the sea,” the 32-year-old Cameroonian said as she described seeing her boyfriend, Douglas, falling in the water and disappearing into the darkness.

The gunmen took Timdi and her fellow passengers back to Libya where they were locked up, raped, beaten and forced to make calls to their families back home for ransom payments to secure their freedom.

Timdi, who flew back to Cameroon last week, told her story as international outcry escalated over a video which appeared to show African migrants being traded as slaves in Libya.

Libya’s U.N.-backed government has said it is investigating and has promised to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Timdi said she had not seen the footage broadcast by CNN, but had witnessed the trade in humans while in Libya.

“I saw it with my own eyes,” she said, describing how she had seen a Senegalese man buying an African migrant.

Timdi: witnesses serial raping of women in the slave camps
Libya is the main jumping off point for migrants trying to reach Europe by boat.

Timdi said many traffickers posed as marine guards, police officers and taxi drivers to ensnare victims.

There were around 130 other migrants on her boat when the gunmen opened fire in the middle of the night, Timdi said.

After being taken back to Libya they were locked in an abandoned factory building where men would grab and rape the girls and women – and sometimes even the men.

“We tried to hide the younger girls among us,” Timdi said, describing the terrifying moments when the guards would scour the room with torches, searching for their next victims.

“I was heavily pregnant – that’s why I wasn’t raped. And it’s all done in front of others – they say it’s so that you know what will happen to you if you don’t pay up.”

Timdi said the facilities used by traffickers appeared to be well organised and guarded, adding that most people inside wore fake police or military uniforms.

“The place was surrounded by army-style vehicles with guns ready to fire, so we didn’t dare try and escape.”

Timdi’s family paid 1 million CFA francs ($1,800), frantically collected from relatives and friends, to free her. But she said ransoms were no guarantee of safety.

The traffickers work with a network of taxi drivers who are supposed to transfer released migrants to migrant camps – but who often re-traffick them, Timdi said.

“If they send you a good taxi, you’ll arrive at your destination, but if it’s a bad taxi the driver will sell you on to someone else,” she said.

“There are people who have been resold twice, three times. And when you call your family to tell them that you’ve been resold once again, no one will believe you, they won’t send more money to free you.”

Timdi was released by her captors in October and gave birth to a baby girl, Brittanie, in a Libyan hospital just days later.

Timdi and Fotsi were among 250 Cameroonians who were flown home this week by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as part of a voluntary return scheme for migrants stranded in Libya.

A group of Cameroonian migrants brought back to Yaoundé from Libya pictured on November 22 2017. Inna Lazareva/ Thomson Reuters Foundation

The programme, funded by the European Union, provided returnees with clothing and medical checks. The most vulnerable, including pregnant women, also received around 400 euros ($475).

IOM Cameroon head Boubacar Saybou said it was launching a programme to help migrants set up businesses, and will also provide start-up funding.

“We need to create opportunities for them here. That’s what’s important,” he said.

Fotsi said he hoped to follow up on the scheme. But for now his most pressing problem was finding a place to sleep.

“I pray that God gives me work that I can do here,” he said.

“If we don’t get work you’ll find many of us walking the streets again.”

*Adapted from a Thomson Reuters Foundation report written by Inna Lazareva

 
 

When the case was mentioned on Thursday, a lawyer M. Bamidele from the law firm of Ricky Tarfa who represented the defendant told the court that his chamber was served with hearing notice six days ago, but that the time was too short for Nnamani to be in court as the defendant was not in the country and that they have not been able to get in touch with him.

The prosecutor, Kelvin Uzozie was also not in court, but wrote a letter to the court asking for adjournment; consequently the court adjourned till 4th of December, 2017, when the former governor would be arraigned.

However, the defense counsel Bamidele, objected to the date, on the ground that it might be difficult to get in touch with the defendant before that day but the Presiding Judge, Prof. Chuka Obizor frowned at his objection, as he observed that this might be a ploy to delay the trial, as he claimed that the case has just been assigned to him, therefore the counsel should take steps to make sure that his client come back to face trial.

thereafter Justice Obiozor adjourned till 4th and 14th of December, 2017 for arraignment and trial.

This fresh arraignment is coming ten years after the ex-governor and others were first arraigned before the court in connection with the alleged offence.

Nnamani was earlier arraigned before Justice Tijani Abubakar and re-arraigned before Justice Charles Archibong when Tijani Abubakar was elevated to court of appeal and later re-arraigned before Mohammed Yinusa when Justice Archibong retired.

The former governor was re -arraigned on a 105-count charge of money laundering and economic crime to the tune of N4.5 billion.

The case has just been reassigned to Obiozor to start afresh.

The ex-governor was arraigned before the court alongside his ex-aide, Sunday Anyaogu and six firms linked to them.

They are: Rainbownet Nig Ltd, Hillgate Nig Ltd, Cosmos FM, Capital City Automobile Nig Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.

Mr Bamidele told the court that as of today, only Nnamani was the only defendant in the charge as the companies have been convicted.

The financial impropriety was alleged to have been committed while Nnamani held sway as governor of Enugu state between 1999 and 2007.

Nnamani, according to the charge, was alleged to have conspired with other accused persons to launder various statutory allocations of some local government areas of Enugu State.

The local governments are: Aninri, Enugu South, Agwu, Igbo Etiti and Isi Uzor.

In count nine, Nnamani was alleged to have stolen N1.4 billion from the Excess Crude Oil Funds allocated to the local governments in the state.

Besides, the former governor, through the help of one Chinero Nwigwe, who is now at large, was alleged to have fraudulently transferred millions of dollars of Enugu State funds to his personal accounts in the United States of America.

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."

Map showing Central Mediterranean migrant routes

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 Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has suspended the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Mounir Gwarzo, from office over allegations of financial misappropriation.

The Ministry’s Deputy Director of Information, Mrs Patricia Deworitshe, in a statement on Wednesday,said that the suspension was to allow unhindered investigation into several allegations of financial impropriety against Gwarzo.

Deworitshes said that Mr Abdulsalam Habu, Head of Media Division, SEC and Mrs Anastasia Braimoh, Head of Legal Department, had also been suspended.

“The suspension is in line with the Public Service Rules.

“The Minister has set up an Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API) to investigate and determine the culpability of the director-general.

“She has directed the suspended SEC Director-General to immediately handover to the most senior officer at the Commission, pending the conclusion of investigation by the API,” she said.

Gwarzo allegedly paid himself N104 million severance package when he was appointed DG SEC from the position of a Director in the same commission.

”This is in total disregard to the standing rule in the civil service which states that severance benefit can only be paid to an employee who has concluded his or her service or has completely disengaged from service.

Since Gwarzo was promoted within the commission to become a Director-general, the service rule says that he’s not yet entitled to a severance package.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) is also investigating the owners of the nine companies that got contracts from the SEC under Gwarzo.

They include Outbound Investment Limited, Medusa Investments Limited, Northwind Environmental Services, Micro-Technologies Limited, Tida International Limited, Outlook Communications, Acromac Nigeria Limited, Balfort International Investment Limited and Interactiven Worldwide Nigeria Limited.

According to the EFCC, Gwarzo, his wife and other cronies allegedly used the companies to carry out illegal transactions in SEC. (NAN)

Wednesday, 29 November 2017 17:44

FG suspends SEC DG, two others

The Federal Government on Wednesday suspended the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir  Gwarzo.

A statement signed by Patricia Deworitshe, Deputy Director, Press, Ministry of Finance, said Gwarzo’s suspension is to allow for unhindered investigation of several allegations of financial impropriety against the SEC chief.

According to the statement, the suspension is in line with the Public Service Rules (PSRs) 03405 and 03406.

The Head of Media in SEC, Mr. Abdulsalam Naif Habu, and the Head of Legal Department, Mrs. Anastasia Omozele Braimoh, have also been suspended over alleged financial impropriety.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has set up an Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API) to investigate and determine the culpability of Gwarzo in the matter and has directed the suspended DG to immediately handover to the most senior officer at the Commission pending the conclusion of investigation.

 
Nigeria, with her diverse ethnic groups, has several food delicacies that even some Nigerians are yet to try.

 

Iyan (pounded yam) and ishapa

Iyan
Iyan

Iyan (pounded yam) is one of the Nigerian fufu recipes, made from pounding boiled yam repeatedly. It is common among the Ondo and Ekiti people. Ishapa is a tangy vegetable used to make egusi soup served with pounded yam. It is mostly eaten by the Ondo and Ekiti people. It originated from Zobo (roselle)  a woody shrub of the hibiscus species (hibiscus sabdariffa ). The leaves are used as vegetables. Ishapa has lot of health benefits such as Lowers cholesterol, Boosting the immune system (from its high levels of vitamin and antioxidants), Decreases inflammation of the kidneys, Decreases occurrence of urinary tract infections, diuretic properties (helps with water retention) and many more. 

 

Starch and Banga soup

Banga
Banga soup

Starch (Usi) is a popular delicacy in the Southern part of Nigeria especially with people from Delta state. It’s the major type of “swallow” used in eating the popular Banga soup. It’s made from the common starch used in laundry in Nigeria. 

Abula

Abula
Amala & Ewedu Abula

Abula is a wonderful Yoruba soup. It is a mixture of gbegiri (bean soup) and ewedu (draw soup).  Amala (yam flour) is a solid brown paste  made from yam or cassava flour which has been peeled, cleaned, dried and blended into a flour and is simply delicious. There are two types of amala which are yam flour (amala isu) and cassava flour ( amala lafun). Abula and Amala is just a perfect match, you should give it a try. 

Masa

Masa
Masa food

Masa is a northern staple similar to a pan-fried rice cake. You can experiment with some onion and ginger to derive that perfect taste. Traditionally, Masa is made into oval shape. 

Fufu and ofe owerri

Fufu and ofe owerri
Fufu and ofe owerri

This is a nutritious traditional meal, loved and eaten by Owerri people. Ofe owerri is basically made with assorted fish, mixed with green vegetable. Fufu is a starchy accompaniment for ofe owerri soup. It is made with a flour made from a cassava plant. This meal is popular for it rich taste and nutritional value. 

Eba and Edikangikong

Edikangikong
Eba and Edikangikong

Eba is made from cassava flour popularly known as garri. Edikangikong is another traditional meal, eaten by the native of Efiks, Akwa ibom and cross river. It is prepared with a great quantity of pumpkin leave and waterleave. It is nourishing in every sense. Eba and Edikangikong is just perfect. 

It is popularly known as African Salad. It is made with dried shredded cassava(Abacha) and fermented oil bean seeds(Ugba). Your African salad will not be complete without ugba. 

Tuwo masara

Tuwo masara
Tuwo and Masara

This is a corn flour dish popularly eaten in the Northern part of Nigeria.To prepare tuwon masara you must first let your maize dry and afterwards grinded. Let your water boil and then pour the grinded maize fine particles, stir and allow it to harden until it become like a firm dough. Tuwon Masara can be eaten with different type of soups and it has nutritional values. 

Miyan Taushe

Miyan
Miyan Taushe

Miyan Taushe is a Pumpkin soup popular among the Hausas in Nigeria. It is prepared with ripe pumpkin meat and enjoyed by both young and old. There are different species of Pumpkin, but the Gourd type is very common in Nigeria, nevertheless, feel free to make use of any species you can get as long as it is ripe. 

Robert Mugabe will continue to have a role to play in Zimbabwean politics, the Jesuit priest who helped negotiate his resignation has told the BBC.

Father Fidelis Mukonori said he would provide "advice" as an elder statesman, including to the new president.

Mr Mugabe, 93, resigned on Tuesday after a military intervention and days of mass protests.

Mr Mukonori said he could not confirm reports that the ex-leader was granted $10m (£7.5m) to ease him out of office.

Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in to replace Mr Mugabe as president on Friday.

Mr Mnangagwa, long a close ally of Mr Mugabe, was sacked earlier this month, triggering the political crisis that eventually saw his boss's downfall.

Father Mukonori, 70, who is close to Robert Mugabe and acted as a mediator between him and the military, said the new president would go to his predecessor for political counsel.

"In the African world, senior citizens are there for advice," he told the BBC's Richard Galpin at a church outside the capital, Harare, after leading a service that included prayers giving thanks for the peaceful transfer of power.

He referred to what Mr Mnangagwa said about his predecessor at his inauguration.

"When he says 'he's my father, he's my leader, he's my mentor', you tell me he's going to stay off from his father, from his mentor, from his leader? I don't think so."

The priest said that Mr Mugabe and his wife Grace remained at their house in Harare and had no plans to leave the country.

The military takeover came in response to Mr Mugabe's decision to position Grace as his successor and sack Mr Mnangagwa from the vice-presidency.

Father Mukonori said he could not confirm reports that the ex-president was granted millions of dollars and promised that his assets would not be touched to persuade him to step down.

"We didn't offer him anything... He resigned for the good of Zimbabwe," he said.

He added: "What I have read in the newspapers is about immunity [from prosecution], and that he will be looked after like any other former head of state."

Mr Mugabe leaving power, he added, was the best thing he had ever done.

 
President Mnangagwa called Robert Mugabe "a father, mentor, comrade-in-arms and my leader"

Separately on Sunday, Robert Mugabe was described as being "quite jovial" by a nephew in an interview with the French news agency AFP.

"He is actually looking forward to his new life - farming and staying at the rural home. He has taken it well," Leo Mugabe said.

He said that Grace wanted to focus on already announced plans to build the controversial $1bn Robert Mugabe University in Mazowe, near Harare.

There are fears that President Mnangagwa, who is associated with some of worst atrocities committed under the ruling Zanu-PF party since independence in 1980, will not usher in the democratic reforms that many in Zimbabwe are hoping for.

But Father Mukonori said he believed the former spymaster knows that democracy is "crucial".

• Lamido, Shekarau, Dankwambo, others may not step down 

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has one more hurdle to cross in his secret deal with some stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, The nation can authoritatively report.

It was learnt yesterday that Jonathan said Atiku must beg or apologize to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to get the 2019 presidential ticket of the PDP on a platter of gold.

Although Obasanjo has quit partisan politics, Jonathan was of the opinion that “he is still a strong factor in shaping the future of the nation in 2019 because he is a force among the revered kingmakers.”

Former President Jonathan  had in early November told the publisher of Ovation magazine in an interview that “If Atiku gets our party ticket, he would compete well. But he would have to reach out to our boss, Baba OBJ, the boss of all bosses. We’ve all learnt at different times that you ignore OBJ at your peril. OBJ has the magic wand. He is respected at home and abroad.”

It was however unclear if Atiku has either accepted the condition or opted to go it alone in seeking the presidential mandate of the PDP.

But some presidential aspirants in PDP were said not to be ready to step down for Atiku, whom Jonathan is working to the answer for.

The aspirants said they prefer to slug it out with Atiku during the presidential primaries.

The affected aspirants are ex-Governor Sule Lamido, ex-Minister Ibrahim Shekarau, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo and a former governor (now a Senator), who is expected to defect from APC to PDP.

The fate of the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of PDP, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi on the party’s 2019 ticket was hanging in the balance as at press time.

Findings by our correspondent revealed that the secret deal, which made Atiku to resign from the All Progressives Congress (APC), was comprehensive and targeted at the ex-VP securing the PDP presidential slot.

It was gathered that the package also borders on hijacking the party structure at the National Convention on December 9 to make Atiku’s choice as the PDP presidential candidate a reality.

Following lobbying by Jonathan, some founding fathers of PDP (including a few retired military officers), have been part of the latest course in PDP.

Investigation revealed that most governors of the PDP were said to have bought into the Atiku project in deference to Jonathan.

A top source, who was privy to the deal, said: “The unfolding script on Atiku’s return to PDP has the blessing of some founding fathers of PDP who are out to salvage the party. A major component is a likely waiver for the ex-VP to contest the party’s presidential primaries.

“So far, Atiku is complying with the secret accord for his return to PDP. A formal declaration in Yola is being expected either on Wednesday or December 6 as indicated in a tentative timetable.

“But in one of the negotiation shuttles with Atiku, ex-President Jonathan added a caveat that the former Vice President can comfortably secure PDP ticket and win the 2019 poll if he begs ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“We were all shocked by this condition because Obasanjo is no longer in partisan politics. But Jonathan said Obasanjo is an institution whose action or inaction could make or mar the electoral fortunes of Atiku.

“The former President also believes that Obasanjo may persuade any of the presidential aspirants to withdraw for Atiku after weighing all the indices. He said if Obasanjo could reconcile with him, he can also forgive Atiku.

“As a matter of fact, Jonathan cited cases of chairmanship aspirants in PDP travelling to Abeokuta to seek his blessing.

“We are expecting Atiku to comply with this proviso because we want to begin the media war (based on facts and figures) in earnest.

“Jonathan’s position on Obasanjo has been endorsed by some founding fathers of PDP, especially the military class which contrived the existence of the party.”

Meanwhile, there were indications yesterday that some presidential aspirants in the PDP may not step down for Atiku.

These include Lamido, Shekarau, Dankwambo and a former governor (now a Senator), who is expected to defect from APC to PDP.

It was not clear if the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of PDP, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi will seek the party’s 2019 ticket.

A governor, who played a significant role in the pact with Atiku, said: “As part of the deal, we have been trying to prevail on some of these aspirants to step down but they have chosen to contest the primaries with the ex-Vice President.

“Some of them queried why a politician will cross from the opposition party and just be given PDP presidential ticket.

“One of the aspirants said since 1999, he has never defected to any party. He said loyalty to the party and competence should be compensated by PDP.

“Well, we have looked into PDP Constitution, it is immaterial when you join, you can enjoy the rights and privileges which a Methuselah member enjoys. Go and look at sections 8 and 18 of our constitution.”

While Section 8(a) and (b) of the PDP Constitution deals with the procedure for rejoining PDP, Section 18 is on the Status of Returnee Members.

Section 8 reads: “A person who desires to rejoin the party after leaving it shall: (a) apply to his Ward Secretary for readmission; and (b) unless given waiver by the National Working Committee(NWC), be placed on probation for a period of not less than one year.

“Subject to the provision of Section 8(b), a member on probation shall have the right to attend all meetings of the party but shall not be entitled to vote at such meetings, nor shall he be eligible to contest for elective office on the platform of the party.

Section 18 says: “A person who has earlier decamped from the party but later decides to return to the party shall lose the seniority and privileges conferred on him by his previous status.”

But the PDP top shot said: “As the opposition party, we are looking at the larger picture of the return of Atiku, we will give him all waivers required to ensure his readmission.

“Some of our leaders, who were initially opposed to the return of the ex-VP, had shown enough understanding in the past few months.”

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan yesterday said the exit of Atiku would not have any significant effect on the fortunes of the party in the 2019 general elections.

He said no serving governor, no presiding officer of the National Assembly or key national executive officer of the party was in sync with Atiku’s defection.

Olaosebikan who spoke with journalists in Abuja yesterday said in spite of the defection, President Muhammadu Buhari would win hands down and that the party would perform better in 2019.

He added:  “Going through the resignation letter, I found out that the Turaki did not exercise enough fortitude. He allowed politics and ambition to take control of him. He should have stayed with his avowed position in 2013 that the All Progressives Congress was his last bus stop politically, and leave the rest in the hands of Allah.”

“What the President needs from us, particularly the big political players is love, understanding, support and prayers as already being exhibited by the National Executive of the party and our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who at different fora recently gave us hope and assurances of a better tomorrow.”

When asked of the declaration of Asiwaju Tinubu that the party would not give automatic ticket to President Buhari for a second term, Olaosebikan told journalists that the position of Tinubu was in the best interest of the President, APC and the country as a whole.

“Asiwaju,  with the declaration of no automatic ticket was merely portraying  the President as a genuine democrat who believes in due process. What Asiwaju Tinubu said was in support of strengthening our democracy and our political institution which we need to do with all seriousness.

“You would recall too, that he stated that all the organs of the party would support him through the processes. In a nutshell, he is in full support of his second term and you know with him, all the APC governors and the presiding officers in the National Assembly, the ticket is already in the pocket of the President.

“And when it comes to the general election, it is a platitude that you cannot compare the popularity and acceptability of President Muhammadu Buhari with that of any person in the country today. He will win in the North and in the South convincingly. Buhari is not loved for money or any material thing; he is passionately loved for his strong character and piousness.”

Saturday, 25 November 2017 20:46

LIVERPOOL 1, CHELSEA 1

Chelsea substitute Willian scored a late goal to earn the Blues a draw with Liverpool at Anfield.

The forward, who scored twice in a 4-0 win at Qarabag in the Champions League in midweek, struck in the 85th minute as what appeared to be a cross looped over Simon Mignolet and into the far corner.

It denied Mohamed Salah a dream outcome against his former club after the Liverpool winger had opened the scoring just after the hour with a close-range finish.

That was Salah's 10th goal in just 13 Premier League games this season in what has been a superb start to the Egyptian's Liverpool career.

Salah could even have won it for Liverpool in final minute but his powerful drive was saved by Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their past seven visits to Anfield, a run stretching back to 2013.

Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah has now scored 15 goals in all competitions this season

Salah, understandably, was the centre of attention in the build up to the match as he faced his former side for the first time since leaving Chelsea for Roma in the summer of 2016.

The 25-year-old made just 17 appearances and six league starts during his two-year spell at Stamford Bridge but has returned to England a much improved player.

Already the Premier League's top scorer, Salah has been at his most effective when alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in attack but against Chelsea he had Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for company in Liverpool's front three.

The triumvirate may have been different but Salah still showed his class. He was Liverpool's most dangerous player in a first half light on chances, flashing an effort over the bar early on while a promising run along the edge of the box deserved more but there was no team-mate waiting in the box to meet his cut-back.

It felt, though, that Salah's name was destined to be written into the story of the game and so it proved. He showed great instinct to anticipate Oxlade-Chamberlain's poked pass and when presented with a clear sight of goal there was little doubt over the outcome.

Salah did not celebrate the strike, which saw him become Liverpool's highest scorer in a single season since Luis Suarez hit 31 goals in the 2013-14 campaign.

Chelsea had won two and drawn four in their past six Anfield visits, but despite that record Antonio Conte's team selection suggested this was a must-not-lose game rather than a must-win.

The Blues lined up with eight defensive-minded players - five defenders along with three holding midfielders as Tiemoue Bakayoko started alongside former Leicester duo Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kante in the middle.

That meant Eden Hazard carried all the creative responsibility, a task he grasped fully whenever the visitors had the chance to get forward. His darting runs and sudden changes of direction had the home side's defence on almost constant edge. It was from his through-ball that Mignolet had to race off his line to deny Drinkwater and it was from his pass that Davide Zappacosta forced the Liverpool keeper to tip over the bar.

However, he visibility tired in the second half, weakening Chelsea's attack, and when Salah scored it seemed a Liverpool win was inevitable.

Willian was unlucky not to have started after scoring twice and providing two assists in Chelsea's midweek win in Azerbaijan and it took just 144 seconds for him to make a telling impact in this game.

His three goals in two games is as many as in his previous 25 combined. The Brazilian has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge but his impressive recent form suggests he could still play a part for the Blues this season.

Man of the match - Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah
Once again Liverpool's best player. With his 10th league goal for Liverpool in his 13th game, no player has scored more in their first 13 Premier League appearances for the Reds (level with Daniel Sturridge).LIV
Saturday, 25 November 2017 20:34

Messi extends Barcelona contract until 2021

Lionel Messi ended months of speculation when finally putting pen to paper on Saturday to extend his contract with Barcelona until 2021, the club announced, making official an agreement reached in July.

The Spanish giants had announced in the summer that Messi, 30, had committed his future to the club but the Argentine had not signed the new deal.

With his previous contract set to expire in 2018, Messi could have left Barca for free next summer had he not extended his deal.

“FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi signed on Saturday morning a new contract that will keep the Argentinian superstar at the club through the 2020/21 season,” read a club statement. “The buyout clause was set at 700 million euros ($835 million).”

The steep rise in the five-time World Player of the Year’s buyout clause from 300 million euros in his previous contract is designed to avoid any repeat of Paris Saint-Germain’s capture of Neymar from Barcelona by paying the Brazilian’s 222 million euro buyout clause in August.

Pressure has been mounting on beleaguered Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu to get Messi to put pen to paper.

Bartomeu was heavily criticised for his role in Neymar’s departure and a haphazard search for replacements in the final weeks of the transfer window.

However, Bartomeu saw off a vote of no confidence measure launched by disgruntled fans thanks to Barca’s fantastic start to the season, in large part inspired by Messi’s form.

And Bartomeu now has the image he craved of a smiling Messi tying the remainder of his peak years to the club.

Messi’s 30 trophies are along with teammate Andres Iniesta the most in Barca’s history, including eight La Liga and four Champions League titles.

The diminutive Argentine, who joined Barca at the age of 13, has also smashed 523 goals in 602 games to become the Catalans’ all-time top goalscorer.

News of Messi’s renewal also comes as a huge boost to the La Liga leaders ahead of Sunday’s top of the table clash at Valencia (1945GMT).

Barca lead a revitalised Valencia by four points, with both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid a further six points adrift, thanks to a club record start of 11 wins and one draw from 12 games.

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