FLASH: Dogara, Saraki in closed-door meeting with President Buhari

The Senate president, Bukola Saraki, has arrived the presidential villa for a meeting with President Muahammadu Buhari.

Mr. Buhari is currently meeting with the speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

Mr. Dogara went into the president’s office at about 11:57 a.m.

Sources at the villa had said Mr. Saraki was also expected to meeting with Mr. Buhari.

The meeting is coming on the heels of apparent Executive/ Legislative rift following the refusal of the Nigerian Senate to consider and approve the list of 27 Resident Electoral Commissioners, REC.

The Senate said it is stepping down the confirmation hearings in protest against the continued retention of Ibrahim Magu as acting chairman of the EFCC by Mr. Buhari in spite of the lawmakers’ refusal to confirm him twice.


Source: Premium Times

PHOTOS: Jubilation in the villa as President Buhari returns after long vacation

There was a mild jubilation at the State House today on the arrival of President Buhari back into the country after a somewhat long medical vacation.

Family members, staff members, ministers and state governors were all on standby to welcome the President back into the villa.

In the pictures made available to Omojuwa.Com below, the President’s wife, Aisha Buhari and the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo were seen in a jubilatory mood:







Presidency orders vacation of DMI security from villa, DSS takes over.

The presidency may have carried out the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw soldiers drawn from the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) from the Presidential Villa. They have now been replaced with operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

Buhari had, on assumption of duty on 29 May, 2015 dislodged the DSS as first-ring security around him and replaced them with soldiers drawn from the DMI.

The redefinition of the roles of the DMI and the DSS in the Presidential Villa may check their rivalry, and improve security in the presidency.

The soldiers were initially moved into the inner circle of the security network in the villa when President Buhari took over, while DSS operated at the periphery.

It was learnt that the directive for the removal of the soldiers was handed down by President Buhari shortly before he went on his vacation in the United Kingdom (UK).

A top source who confirmed the development yesterday, disclosed that the two security agencies had been at daggers drawn behind the scene over who provides protection to the president since Buhari moved into his Aso Rock official residence in 2015.

According to another source, “protection of the president by body guards is actually the work of the DSS but Mr. President did not have confidence in the service when he first came in, because of the way they treated him during the 2015 election.

“The soldiers were moved into the inner circle of the security network while DSS operated at the periphery. This has not gone down well with the DSS,” he noted.

Specifically, it was learnt that there had been a subtle disagreement between the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) Abdulraman Mani and the Aide de Camp (ADC) to the President, Col. Lawal Abubakar over which of the plain-clothes security agencies should provide close quarter protection to the president and his immediate family.

It was learnt that while Mani insisted on allowing men and officers of the DSS to provide the statutory shield around the president and the first family, the ADC was more disposed to having the plain-clothes operatives of the DMI to carry out the function.

The disagreement between the two aides, The Guardian learnt, was what led to the eventual removal of the former CSO who was replaced by Abubakar.

Mani had, in a memo dated Friday, June 26, 2016 countered the ADC’s directives which shoved aside the DSS. He had insisted that the order was a misrepresentation of the president. This was before his eventual removal.?

Mani who in the memo quoted relevant sections of the constitution which grant powers to the DSS to carry out such security duties was said to have copied the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Director -General of the DSS. He had also noted that the various security agencies at the villa would be educated on their various responsibilities.

The memo read in part: “In fact, the issues raised in the aforementioned (ADC’s) circular tend to suggest that the author may have ventured into a not-too-familiar terrain.

“The extant practice, the world over, is that VIP protection, which is a specialised field, is usually handled by the secret service, under whatever nomenclature.

“They usually constitute the inner core security ring around every principal. The police and the military by training and mandate are often required to provide secondary and tertiary security cordons around venues and routes.

“However, all other security agencies, including the army, the police and others, also have their roles to play. It is on this note that heads of all security agencies currently in the Presidential Villa and their subordinates are enjoined to key into the existing command and control structure.

“They are to work in harmony with each other in full and strict compliance with the demands of their statutorily prescribed responsibilities.

“Meanwhile, joint training programmes and other incentives will be worked out in the days ahead to ensure that all security personnel at the Presidential Villa are properly educated to understand their statutory roles and responsibilities.

But, it was learnt yesterday that the removal of the soldiers last Monday came after Buhari was convinced to facilitate a reversal to the original architecture and allow full charge of close quarter security within the purview of the DSS.

As at the time of filing this report, operatives of the DSS had taken positions in the villa previously manned by plain-clothes soldiers.


Source: Guardian

Niger Delta Group Storms Villa, Gives Fresh Conditions For Peace

delegation of the Niger Delta Peoples Congress (NDPC) was at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday and gave fresh conditions for peace during a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

It would be recalled that elders from the region, under the auspices of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, had on November 1 met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa where they presented a 16-point demand to him.

The secretary of the Niger Delta Peoples Congress, Professor Benjamin Okaba, told Osinbajo yesterday that their visit was to re-affirm the plausible submissions earlier made, prioritise their concerns and place them in clearer perspectives.

Okaba listed his group’s demands as including political reconstruction and fiscal federalism, saying the derivation principle should allow the different units annex and control their resources and pay appropriate and agreed tax to the centre.

The group also demanded stoppage of further invasion of the region under any guise; unconditional release of all freedom fighters from detention, relocation of multinational corporations’ operational bases to the region and creation of at least 6,000 jobs for the teeming population of unemployed and restive youths of the region.

It also demanded resumption of academic activities at the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State and establishment of similar institutions in other parts of the region; release of over N800bn outstanding allocations to the NDDC; building of more modular refineries; reduction of the current state of environmental degradation and threat to life occasioned by the activities of the mult-national corporations in the region as well as comprehensive remediation of areas affected by oil spill.

Other demands were provision of medical facilities and attention to people suffering from ailments associated with oil and gas activities; prompting the legislative process for the review of the nation’s laws on environmental impact; immediate implementation of all laws stopping gas flaring in the region and establishment of internally displaced persons camps for the re-settlement of displaced persons at Bakassi, Gbaramatu, and so on.

In his response, Osinbajo charged the delegation to first address the issue of continued vanadalism in the region which, according to him, he said is the most important thing.

He noted that the problems in the region had always been there, saying if the elite in all regions of the country decide to end the problems in their regions, the crises would be resolved.

The vice president also told the delegation that independent producers who are Nigerians are the ones suffering from vandalism, not the international oil companies.

Credit: dailytrust

Accountability and the demons in Aso Villa – Ikeogu Oke

Reuben Abati’s widely published piece, “The Spiritual Side of Aso Villa,” deserves very critical attention for its implication for accountability. That implication, which I consider harmful, is that it creates grounds for anyone who has operated and may operate from Aso Villa, our country’s seat of power, to argue their exoneration for any wrong attributable to them on the grounds that the villa, as Abati would have us believe, is a place where “the forces of darkness” hold sway and control the actions of its inhabitants.

Indeed, if we accept that people act under the influence of such forces which they cannot resist, why hold them accountable for their actions even by law, which considers acting under duress – in this case the duress of demons – as a basis for the exculpation of an accused person?

So if we asked the first tenant of the villa as Head of State why he annulled the June 12, 1993, presidential election, an act many consider wrong for the attendant economic waste and injustice to various stakeholders, he would be justified to respond that he couldn’t have acted otherwise considering the influence of such malevolent forces. And if it were possible to prosecute one of his successors posthumously over the loot being recovered offshore and said to belong to him, and ask him why he would engage in such rapacious plunder of the public till while in office, he could argue for his acquittal with a response that those “forces of darkness” made him do it.

And if we continued to blame the first occupant of the villa as civilian president for the disruptive “third term” project and some other wrongs linked to him while in office – like the corruption of the politics of a certain state with violence for which a renowned writer rejected a national honour he gave him – he might overturn our justification for blaming him by claiming that he acted under the influence of the same “forces of darkness.” And if we were to criticise one of his successors whose Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy was quoted as having said that the government under him lacked the political will to save for our country’s future, he might tell us it was the same evil forces that prevented him from saving, and sue for our understanding.

And for those wrongs for which we may feel justified in blaming our leader to whom Abati apparently alludes with the remark, “No Nigerian President should be in spiritual bondage because he belongs to all of us and to nobody,” he may deflect our blame by attributing them to the “spiritual bondage,” and ask us to bear with him, rather than take responsibility for such wrongs.

However, the most intriguing thing, for me, is that “the forces of darkness” said to plague Aso Villa do not prevent its occupants at the top from desiring to exhaust or extend their tenures in office. One of them, on leaving office, said he was stepping aside, implying his intention to step back in someday as he tried to do by trying to run for president. Another military Head of State like him sought to transmute into a civilian president, having set up sham political parties which a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice famously described as “the five fingers of a leprous hand.” Does that mean they would rather prolong their torment by those “forces of darkness”?

Another sought to wangle for himself an extra term in office. And yet another fought probably the most bitter and divisive election in our country’s history apparently to remain in the company of the same evil forces that had tormented him and his aides for almost six years.

Then think of this: in most cases they parted ways with the said “forces of darkness” with better stories to tell about their personal finances. Yet we are expected to believe that the forces, if they exist, are not being maligned as unkind to them.

Here, for the avoidance of doubt, is a summation of Abati’s views to which I respond: “When Presidents make mistakes, they are probably victims of a force higher than what we can imagine. Every student of Aso Villa politics would readily admit that when people get in there, they actually become something else. They act like they are under a spell. When you issue a well-crafted statement, the public accepts it wrongly. When the President makes a speech and he truly means well, the speech is interpreted wrongly by the public. When a policy is introduced, somehow, something just goes wrong … Those mistakes don’t look normal … I am therefore convinced that there is an evil spell enveloping this country. We need to rescue Nigeria from the forces of darkness. Aso Villa should be converted into a spiritual museum, and abandoned … I am tempted to suggest that this is indeed a country in need of prayers …The President … can make wrong decisions based on the cloud of evil around him.”

All the wrongs Abati attributes to “the forces of darkness” can be rationalised or explained in existential terms. For instance, if a president appoints his speechwriters based on primordial considerations rather than merit, and in spite of their questionable competence, then he may end up with speeches marred by embarrassing flaws including plagiarism, on which his critics may pounce.

I think Nigerians are already praying in excess, alas with hardly any proof that our prayers are being answered, unless we do not pray for the good life and a united, just, peaceful, prosperous, well-governed and corruption-free nation. If prayers could generate revenue, Nigeria could be the richest country in the world. Though a very prayerful nation, we import a wide range of goods from an atheist, prayerless nation like China without seeming to ponder what gives a nation that doesn’t pray such an edge of productivity over one that prays.

My favourite definition of prayer is by the American philosopher and transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. He says, “Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view.” It is like reckoning that we cannot pray a bridge over a river with folded hands; but with the right knowledge of bridge building and effort we can build a bridge over a river even without praying. Nor can we pray ourselves to economic prosperity amid unbridled corruption and a poor work ethic. Or expect our prayers to be answered if misaligned with our actions, like praying for peace while fomenting crises.

I believe we can overcome “the evil forces” in Aso Villa with positive and patriotic action. And if we abandon the villa and build a new one, can’t the same forces relocate to the new one and haunt its inhabitants such that they continue to make wrong decisions that derail our collective destiny?

– Oke, a poet and public affairs analyst, lives in Abuja.

President Buhari Meets The 21 Released Chibok Girls In State House. [Pictures]

President Muhammadu Buhari received the 21 recently released Chibok girls at the State House in Abuja on Wednesday.

Prior to the meeting, the girls, who were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in 2014, underwent screening.

The former captives were released last week following negotiations between the federal government and Boko Haram, with intervention from the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The government is allegedly working to release the remaining Chibok girls as well as other Nigerians captured by the terrorist group.

“Today I received 21 dear daughters,” the president said on his Twitter page.

“They have seen the worst that the world has to offer. It is now time for them to experience the best.”




Mr. Buhari gave the following speech:


My dear children. This is a happy moment for me and for all Nigerians. I welcome you back to freedom. It is a moment your parents, the Nation and the International Community have been eagerly waiting for, since your abduction on 14th April 2014.

We must from the onset, thank Almighty God for this day that 21 of the Chibok girls have again breathed the air of freedom and are reunited with their parents. We are equally prayerful, that God in his infinite mercies and benevolence, will see to it that the girls remaining in captivity will be freed and returned to us soonest.

All Nigerians recall, sadly the night of 14th April 2014, 276 young female Nigerian students were abducted from the Government Secondary School in Chibok Borno State by the Boko Haram.

Fortunately, 57 of the kidnapped school girls were able to escape, leaving 219 in captivity. One of the abducted girls, Amina Ali was found in May 2016. And today we are here celebrating the freedom and return of another 21 girls that regained freedom on Thursday 13th October. We are equally as hopeful as we are praying, that the remaining girls will be freed and returned to us without further delay.




The release of these 21 girls followed a series of negotiations between Government and the Boko Haram group, brokered by our friends both local and International. Since this Administration assumed office, we have been working towards the safe release of the girls. The Nigerian DSS, Military and other Security Agencies have spared no effort to secure our girls. These 21 girls are the manifestation of our doggedness and commitments to the release and return of the Chibok girls.

While joining their parents to rejoice and praise the Almighty, we shall redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfill our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home. Already, the credible first step has been taken and Government will sustain the effort until all the remaining girls return safely

These 21 girls will be given adequate and comprehensive medical, nutritional and psychological care and support. The Federal Government will rehabilitate them, and ensure that their reintegration back to the Society is done as quickly as possible.

Aside from rescuing them, we are assuming the responsibility for their personal, educational and professional goals and ambitions in life. Obviously, it is not late for the girls to go back to school and continue the pursuit of their studies.




These dear daughters of ours have seen the worst that the world has to offer. It is now time for them to experience the best that the world can do for them.  The Government and all Nigerians must encourage them to achieve their desired ambitions.

The Federal Government appreciates the patience and understanding of the parents of all the abducted Chibok girls. We equally thank Nigerians and the International Community for their support and prayers, and for never losing confidence in our ability to secure the safe release of our girls.

Once again, I congratulate the 21 released girls, their parents, the Chibok Community the security agencies and all Nigerians on this day of delight and rejoicing.

Thank You.

Evil spirits exist everywhere, not only in Aso Villa–Presidential Chaplain.

The Chaplain of Aso Villa Chapel, Seyi Malomo, has explained his stance on recent media reports alleging Aso Villa was infested with evil spirits and demons.

Rather than take the report as truth, Mr. Malomo said on Sunday, Nigerians should dedicate themselves to praying for God’s righteousness to take over the land.

“I am not saying there are no evil spirits. I am also not saying there are,” he said.

“I don’t know what people believe. For me, I believe it is only righteousness that exalts a nation.

“Evil spirit is everywhere. Even the street you live, don’t you have witches and wizards there?” he added.

Mr. Malomo said his advice was for citizens to pray for Nigeria and its leaders, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari, his family and all those working in the presidential villa, for God to cleanse the Nigerian seat of government of all alleged demonic influences.

The Chaplain was speaking in Abuja in a exclusive chat with PREMIUM TIMES shortly after delivering a sermon as guest preacher during the African International College (AIC), Abuja thanksgiving/welcome service for its 2016/2017 freshers.

Despite allegations the presidential villa was full of evil spirits, Mr. Malomo said there was nothing above prayers to seek God’s intervention to restore righteousness in Nigeria.

“All we need to do as Nigerians is to pray that wherever evil exists, God should make His righteousness to take over.

“As Nigerians, our responsibility is to continue to pray for the president and his cabinet, and every part of the country, particularly the Villa, for righteousness to take over,” Mr. Malomo said.

The claims of evil spirit at the presidential villa heightened when a former Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reuben Abati, said in an article in the Guardian that he was “totally convinced Aso Rock Abuja is full of evil spirits.”

Mr. Abati recalled several incidents of fire outbreaks at the Aso Villa during his stay there.

“Around the Villa while I was there, someone always died or their relations died. I can confirm every principal officer suffered one tragedy or the other. It was as if you needed to sacrifice something to remain on duty inside that environment,” he said.

“Even some of the women became merchants of dildo because they had suffered a special kind of death in their homes … and many of the men complained about something that had died below their waists too.

“The ones who did not have such misfortune had one ailment or the other that they had to nurse. From cancer to brain and prostate surgery and whatever, the Villa was a hospital full of agonizing patients.”

A former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, agreed with Mr. Abati, saying “a lot of very strange things happened there” when he worked at the villa as spokesperson to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He listed some of the strange things he noted happened as the death of Mr. Obasanjo’s assistants, Tunji Oseni and Remi Oyo, who he said contracted terrible terminal illnesses whilst in office and died few years after leaving office.

Mr. Fani-Kayode also said several other aides who worked in the Villa at the time were also afflicted with strange diseases and a sudden and tragic end. He mentioned such people as Mr. Obasanjo’s ex-aide de camp, Solomon Amu, and former Senior Special Assistant on Public Communications, Stanley Macebuh.

Mr. Fani-Kayode had made a similar allegation about the aviation industry. He said that during his time as minister there was a “blood sucking cult” in the ministry that believed shedding human blood brought power and wealth.

“There is definitely a spiritual aspect to this (plane crashes). In my view, there has always been a blood cult operating in the ministry of aviation. There are some people that are very strange,” he said.

Presidency May Relocate Villa Chapel, Mosque

It appears from last night that the Presidency has been put under pressure to relocate the Villa Chapel because the location of the Villa Chapel, which was built and inaugurated by President Olusegun Obasanjo, is said to be too close to Buhari’s bedroom and kitchen.

Sources close to the presidency said that the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who inherited the Villa chapel from Obasanjo, had assured his predecessor that he would not relocate the location despite its proximity to his residence.
It was revealed that some overzealous aides of President Buhari were uncomfortable with the location of the church and had already made efforts to stop the use of the facility by Christian worshippers on August 30, 2015, thereby causing a national uproar in the process.

A source in the Presidency said that security agents prevented the Villa Chapel choristers from entering the building for their weekly rehearsal on Saturday, August 29, 2015.
According to the source, the plot was to erect canopies and have the church service there but the plan soon leaked and the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, had to intervene by reaching out to President Buhari before the security men gave way for service to be conducted that day.

The Presidency source said: “Osinbajo was uncomfortable with the plan and he had to reach out to the President before service could be held that day in the chapel.”

It was learnt last night as prelude to relocating the Chapel, the Children’s church, which forms part of the Villa Chapel, has been shut and some rooms, converted to shops for storing food items which forced the children to relocate to the office of the Chaplain, Seyi Malomo, for their normal service.

A source at the Presidency said on Tuesday, “As we speak, the children’s church remains shut and everything relating to the church has been removed. We had to beg them to allow us to remove our property. The children’s church has been turned into a store,” the official said.

“As a result of the unforeseen development, we had to collapse some facilities to accommodate the children and keep our worship going.”

That was why the Chaplain said that the church had not been shut but ‘we only had some procedural issues that needed to be sorted out’.

However the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina has denied the closure of the church by the Presidency.

Last week, when the issue came up, Adesina, posted pictures of the church service on his Facebook page.

The acting Chaplain of the Aso Villa Chapel, Pastor Joseph Sheyi Malomo also said that the church was not shut but did not make mention of the fact that his office was being used in the place of the shut children’s church.

Vanguard learnt that the Presidency is considering relocating both the Mosque and the Church from their present locations to a more spacious area in the Villa so as to prevent any accusation.

Jonathan’s Bodyguards Posted Out Of Villa

Department of State Services personnel who served as bodyguards to President Goodluck Jonathan have been posted out of the Villa to various state commands.

Competent sources at the Presidential Villa said that the signal for the posting of the over 150 bodyguards who had remained redundant following the directive by the ADC to President Buhari that they should leave the presidential villa came yesterday.

“Almost all of our personnel who were bodyguards in the villa have been transferred out of the state House. A new crop of bodyguards who were trained for the purpose have taken over. They will take over from the soldiers who were initially drafted to man the various beats hitherto occupied by the DSS personnel. That phase of transition is over” the source said.

Read More: vanguardngr

Buhari Orders Re-Issuance Of Villa Press Pass To Deutsche Welle Correspondent

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday ordered the re-issuance of Presidential Villa Press Pass to Deutsche Welle correspondent, Mallam Ubale Musa, who was expelled from villa by the previous administration.

The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr Femi Adesina, disclosed this while presenting the re-issued villa press pass to Musa at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Adesina said that Musa’s re-accreditation as a State House correspondent was in keeping with Buhari’s commitment to correct the wrongs of the past.

“Part of the change promised by President Buhari is correcting things that were wrongly done before.

“Mr Ubale Musa’s accreditation was wrongly withdrawn. To redress the wrong done to him by the withdrawal, we have returned his Villa Press Pass to him so that he can continue his work without hindrance,’’ he said.

In his remarks after receiving his Villa Press Pass, Musa thanked the President and his media team for restoring his accreditation.

He promised that he would continue to do his work as a State House Correspondent objectively, professionally and with due regards to the ethics of journalism.


Buhari’s ADC Formally Writes For Withdrawal Of DSS Personnel From Villa- Report

Contrary to denial by the Presidency that operatives of the Department of State Services were not ordered out of the villa, Vanguard insists that that the Aide-de-Camp, ADC, to the President has formally informed the DSS that its personnel would no longer provide close body protection for the President as they are being replaced with men of the Nigerian Army and Police personnel “who were trained as Presidential Bodyguards.”

Vanguard reported, yesterday, that ADC to the President, Lt. Col Abubakar Lawal, ordered personnel of the DSS out of the villa and replaced them with men of the Nigerian Army.

However, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has given no such order.  While it is true that a reorganization of security at the Presidential Villa which involves the realignment of personnel from various services is underway, the exercise does not translate to the expulsion of DSS personnel from the premises in any way. The changes being made are routine adjustments which are not unexpected in any dynamic environment from time to time.”

But in a memo Vanguard claimed to have seen written by the President’s ADC, he stated that  DSS personnel have been withdrawn from close body protection of the President and are being replaced by members of the Nigerian Army and the Police, adding that he was acting “sequel to directives.”

Read Morevanguardngr

Buhari Denies Ejecting SSS From Aso Rock Villa

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday dispelled rumours that State Security Service operatives have been expelled from the Presidential Villa.

Mr. Buhari, who spoke through his Senior Adviser, Femi Adesina, said the speculations on the expulsion of the SSS operatives were unfounded.

A statement from the presidency said: “Rumours that personnel of the State Security Service have been expelled from the Presidential Villa are unfounded. President Muhammadu Buhari has given no such order.

“While it is true that a reorganization of security at the Presidential Villa which involves the realignment of personnel from various services is underway, the exercise does not translate to the expulsion of DSS personnel from the premises in any way. The changes being made are routine adjustments which are not unexpected in any dynamic environment from time to time.”

There had been claims that Mr. Buhari barred SSS personnel from serving as part of his security team. The presidency denied the reports.


Jonathan, Sambo To Vacate Villa Friday

President Goodluck Jonathan and his vice, Namadi Sambo will pack out of the Presidential Villa on Friday.

President Jonathan disclosed this on Tuesday when the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), honoured him with the award of “Peace Loving Global Citizen” for his decision to accept the result of the 2015 Presidential poll.

Jonathan explained that he took the decision to accept the result of the election because there must be a nation first before any ambition. While commending the group for the honour, Jonathan said Sambo also deserved the honour, saying accepting defeat in the election also affected him.

Read More: DailyTrust

Manchester City Know Barcelona’s Weaknesses, Says David Villa

David Villa believes Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has the knowledge to expose Barcelona‘s weaknesses in their Champions League round of 16 tie.

The Catalans proved to be too strong in the knockout stages of last year’s edition of the competition, but the former Barcelona attacker – who now plays for City’s MLS sister club New York City FC – is expecting a tight battle.

“I think it will be a very close tie,” Villa told the official City website.

“City and Barcelona are two of the best clubs in the world with great players so I’m sure it will be a very good tie to watch. 

“I’m sure that Manuel Pellegrini and all his staff know Barcelona very well. When you face this kind of teams you have to make sure that you make it difficult for them and try to take advantage of their weaknesses.

“Barca are in very good form. They win games, they have closed the gap with Real Madrid and they won against Atletico – a very difficult team to beat – in Copa del Rey so they are in a good moment.

“I think they were also playing well before but they didn’t get the results. You always have more confidence when you win games.”

The first leg is scheduled to take place in Manchester on February 24, with the return at Camp Nou on March 18.