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All Eyes on Ronaldo, Salah As Man United, Liverpool Clash

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah will go head to head for the right to be billed as the Premier League’s top dog when Manchester United face arch-rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp risked irking United striker Ronaldo ahead of the crunch clash when he hailed Salah as the best player in the world last weekend.

The Egypt forward has been in superb form, with his sublime strikes against Manchester City and Watford already goal of the season contenders.

But Ronaldo hasn’t been far behind with a series of crucial goals underlining his superstar status.

While Paris Saint-Germain duo Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe can also stake their claim to be the world’s best, in the Premier League there is little doubt that Ronaldo and Salah are the main men.

So who will be this season’s preeminent force?

Sunday’s crucial showdown at Old Trafford will go some way to deciding that question.

Without a win in their last three league games, United are four points behind second-placed Liverpool.

United need Ronaldo to continue his knack of rising to the big occasion, while unbeaten Liverpool hope Salah can continue his blistering streak.

Salah has scored 12 times in 11 games this season, with Ronaldo netting six times in eight matches since returning to United from Juventus in August.

Salah became the first Liverpool player to score in nine consecutive games after striking twice in the Champions League win at Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Just 24 hours later, Ronaldo stole the European spotlight with the late headed winner that completed United’s fightback from two goals down to beat Atalanta 3-2.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer naturally leans towards his player in any debate about the best of the best.

But he admitted Salah’s red-hot run makes him a fearsome proposition.

“I’ll always back Cristiano in any competition. He’s unique. That being said, Salah, at the moment, he’s on fire,” Solskjaer said.

“We know we have to be at our best to defend against him. We have to focus on them for 95 minutes to keep a clean sheet.

“I’m a big fan of Liverpool’s front three. We have to enjoy the players, though not Salah on Sunday, of course.”

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UN Deputy Sec Gen Condemns Gruesome Killing of Deborah, Demands Justice

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Amina Muhammed, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, has called for justice following the killing of Deborah Yakubu in Sokoto over blasphemy.

Muhammed spoke out via her official Twitter page on Tuesday, stating that religions should not be “misinterpreted to preach violence”.

“Justice must be done for the senseless, brutal killing of the young Deborah Yakubu in Nigeria. Religions should not be misinterpreted to preach violence when they promote peace.

“My prayers are with the family and for the repose of her soul,” she tweeted.

Yakubu, a second-year student of the Sheu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was lynched on the school premises on Thursday after classmates accused her of blasphemy.

On Monday, the Sokoto Police Command arraigned two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in the state, for their alleged participation in the crime.

The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges while the defence counsel, Prof. Mansur Ibrahim, applied for their bail on liberal terms, citing constitutional provisions and sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.

The trial judge reserved the ruling on the bail application and ordered the accused to be remanded at a correctional centre.

The Punch

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AfDB’s Adesina Not Contesting for Presidency – Report

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The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina, will not be contesting the Presidency of Nigeria.

A support group had purchased and submitted the N100m Presidential form of the All Progressives Congress for the top banker last week.

Some had also reported that Adesina visited Mamman Daura, the influential nephew of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) last week to seek his support.

But The PUNCH confirmed that Adesina will not be taking part in the Presidential screening of the APC slated for May 23.

Adesina’s office is expected to issue a statement in a few hours distancing himself from Nigeria’s partisan politics.

The AfDB regulations bar its President from partisan politics.

Specifically, Paragraph 2 of Article 38 of the agreement establishing AfDB, titled ‘Prohibition of Political Activity; the International Character of the Bank’, states that “The Bank, its President, Vice Presidents, officers and staff shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member (country); nor shall they be influenced in their decisions by the political character of the member (country) concerned.”

Paragraph 3 of the article states that “The President, Vice Presidents, officers and staff of the Bank, in discharge of their offices, owe their duty entirely to the Bank and to no other authority.”

Similarly, the AfDB code of conduct bars its executive from partisan politics. Section 10 of the Code reads: “Although Executive Directors are elected representatives of governments from their constituencies, they shall during their tenure of office as executive directors refrain from participating in active politics in their home countries or elsewhere.”

Should Adesina seek to run for the office of President of Nigeria, he would need to resign his current position permanently, a risk it was learnt the top banker was not willing to take.

There are at least 25 other aspirants running for President on the platform of the APC.

Some of them include APC stalwart, Bola Tinubu; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; oil mogul, Tein Jack-Rich; Senator Ajayi Boroffice; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State and many others.

The Punch

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N80bn Fraud: EFCC Arrests Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris

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Nigeria’s Accountant-General, Ahmed Idris, has been arrested over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds, according to a report by PREMIUM TIMES.

According to the report, Idris was intercepted in Kano by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday evening and flown to Abuja, the nation’s capital, for interrogation.

Sources said the EFCC has for sometime now been investigating a case of diversion of at least N80 billion in public funds which was allegedly laundered through some bogus contracts.

The companies used in laundering the funds have allegedly been linked to family members and associates of the accountant-general, investigators said.

The sources further said that after progress was made in the investigation, Idris was summoned repeatedly for interrogation but he failed to honour the invitations.

“We kept inviting him but he kept dodging us,” one of our sources said. “We were left with no choice than to keep him under watch and arrest him.”

However, a top EFCC confirmed the development but asked not to be named because he had no permission to discuss the matter with the media.

President Muhammed Buhari appointed Mr Idris accountant-general on June 25, 2015.

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