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Boko Haram ‘seeks talks with govt’

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Some Boko Haram elements are seeking dialogue with the Federal Government, the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC), an independent Non-Governmental Organisation, said yesterday.

The development—should it be genuine— will bring a ray of hope that the seeming intractable insurgency in the Northeast will stop.

Breaking the news, the CCC confirmed that some insurgents approached it to facilitate a channel of dialogue between them and the Federal Government.

The Centre’s Executive Secretary, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (rtd), made the disclosure at a news conference in Abuja.

Commodore Anas, who was the immediate spokesman for the Nigerian Air Force, also spoke on other national issues including: terrorism, cattle rustling, National Assembly crisis, pipeline vandalism, kidnapping, armed robbery and  Radio Biafra among others

He said: “The Boko Haram challenges have continued to become an intractable crisis situation to our nation. Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima said that more than three million innocent Nigerians from Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and parts of Nigeria live in deep agony having lost their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relations and neighbours after brutally being attacked by members of Boko Haram.

“Indeed, many of our citizens are now orphans, widows and forced to become refugees within and outside our country.

“Over the years, government has been pursuing the terrorists with the aim of ending insurgency.

“Although, some level of successes has been recorded in degrading the volatility of the terrorists, they are far from being defeated.

“Some prominent Nigerians have in recent times canvassed the idea of dialogue with the Boko Haram.

“The option of dialogue, according to them, at the moment provides a leeway of not only safely rescuing the abducted Chibok schoolgirls alive, but also possibly bringing to an end the orgy of violence unleashed on innocent citizens by the group.

“Considering the unspeakable atrocities which the group has visited on Nigeria and Nigerians, this option is no doubt a hard sell. However, the recent statement by President Muhammadu Buhari on government’s readiness to negotiate with credible members of the sect has rekindled the hope for dialogue.

“The centre views this gesture as good. It has opened a window of opportunity for dialogue for those insurgents that are willing and ready to lay down their arms.

“This position is predicated on calls made to this centre by some members of the Boko Haram requesting for genuine and comprehensive dialogue that could lead to hundreds of them coming out to renounce their membership.

“The centre, however, suggests that such dialogue should be done with every sense of caution and responsibility, bearing in mind the previous disappointments that attended attempts at negotiations.

“Nevertheless, the centre will continue to support and encourage all efforts towards bringing insurgency to an end in our country.”

The retired Air Force chief warned against the resurrection of militancy in Niger Delta by the outlawed Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).

He said if there were genuine grievances with the Amnesty Programme, legitimate avenues and appropriate channels should be exploited.

His words: “The centre is equally agitated by the recent moves to resurrect the once rested Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).

“It was purported to have planned a meeting of its old brigade members on 25, July 2015 in Yenagoa. The arrow head of the meeting is no other person than Mr. Tompolo along with some Ijaw youth.

“Although, Mr. Tompolo denied attempting to resurrect the rested militant group, the last may not have been heard on the issue. Nigerians will recall how this deadly group almost crippled the nation’s oil production from 2005 until when late President Umaru Yar’Adua initiated the Amnesty Programme.

“Since the inception of the Amnesty Programme, billions of naira has been and is still being spent to address the youth challenges of the region.

“The appointment of Brig.- Gen. Peter Boroh (rtd) will no doubt energise the programme. If there are genuine grievances with the Amnesty programme, legitimate avenues and appropriate channels should be exploited.

“However, the full wrath of the law should be brought to bear on any individual or group that wants to engineer crisis aimed at militating against the socio-economic development of our dear nation.”

On the herdsmen clashes with farmers, the CCC chief said it has reached an alarming proportion as ‘it always precipitates bloody clashes’ leaving scores of people dead in different parts of the country, especially in Taraba, Plateau, Benue, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Niger and other states over grazing rights.

He said: This recurring but often violent crisis perpetrated by unknown hoodlums has continued to traumatise innocent and enterprising Nigerians engaged in cattle rearing and farming.

“The crisis is perhaps accentuated by the economic hardship and joblessness. The Centre has received hundreds of calls from several parts of the north over this issue.

“Instances abound where hoodlums send letters to cattle breeders especially Fulanis and farmers to pay hundreds of thousands of naira or even millions as ransom to avert attacks.”

He praised Kano State Governor Nasir El-Rufai for setting up the ‘Cattle Initiative’ to curtail the excesses of cattle rustlers.

Anas said: “The Centre is calling on governments at all levels to ensure every action aimed at finding a lasting-solution to enable the return of normalcy in every nook and crannies of our communities.

“The Centre believes that more discussions and legislative actions at the states and National Assembly levels are needed now on the propriety or otherwise of creating or delineating grazing areas in the country.”

On the lingering National Assembly crisis, the CCC appealed to all the contending individuals, groups or parties to ‘shield their swords’ in national interest “knowing how far-reaching and negative effect political crisis of this dimension could continue to be in inflaming passions, creating divisive tendencies, and ultimately translating in crisis.”

He urged the legislators to emulate President Buhari and slash their remunerations to “demonstrate to Nigerians that they are also sympathetic to the current financial challenges of the nation and ready to make sacrifices to make Nigeria better.”

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Organ harvesting: Dino Melaye reacts to arrest of Ekweremadu, wife

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Former Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye has expressed his support for ex-Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu amid controversy of alleged organ harvesting.

Melaye said he stands with Ekweremadu because there was no wrongdoing by the Senator.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice were arrested in London for allegedly plotting to harvest the kidney of a Nigerian minor.

The UK metropolitan police had arrested and charged Ekweremadu and his wife to court, but the duo pleaded not guilty to the charges at the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

“These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until 7 July back here at Uxbridge,” Magistrate Lois Sheard said.

Ms Sheard remanded both defendants in custody ahead of their hearing next month.

Sharing Ekweremadu’s letter via his Twitter handle, Melaye wrote: “Sen. Ike Ekweremadu notified the British authorities on his trip with the said boy. I stand with Ike.”

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Supreme Court set to rule on controversial Electoral Act on Friday

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria will on Friday deliver judgment on the legality or otherwise of the controversial section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 .

The apex Court is set for its verdict in the suit instituted against the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice.

A notice for the judgment delivery has just been sighted, indicating that the apex Court will make its position known this morning.

The notice was served on Buhari and the National Assembly on Thursday, inviting them to appear before the court today for their judgment.

Our correspondent further observed that the suit is the only one for determination today.

Buhari and Abubakar Malami had filed the suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.

In the suit filed on April 29, Buhari and Malami, who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.

Section 84 (12) has been a subject of intense litigation and political debate in Nigeria since President Buhari signed the amended Electoral Act 2022 into law in February this year.

Shortly after signing it into law, Buhari had asked the parliament to delete the controversial clause in the Electoral Act, but the National Assembly declined the president’s request.

According to Section 84 (12) of the legislation, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot. These are the biggest decliners

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot
The Stephansplatz is a square at the geographical centre of Vienna. It is named after its most prominent building, the Stephansdom, Vienna's cathedral and one of the tallest churches in the world.

After two years, Vienna has overtaken Auckland as the world’s most livable city, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Vienna ranked first in 2018 and 2019, but was overtaken by Auckland, New Zealand, during the pandemic and slipped to 12th place in 2021, according to the Global Liveability Index 2022.

The EIU said that Auckland’s position on the index dipped to the 34th place this year because of higher Covid-19 infection rates and strict border controls in 2021. Although lockdowns ended in New Zealand in December, well-vaccinated cities in Europe and Canada had begun easing restrictions earlier.

However, it’s unlikely that Auckland would’ve clinched the top position in this year’s ranking even without a pandemic, according to the EIU.

“Other cities falling was why Auckland was top last time. Without Covid, it would likely be top 10, but not number one,” said Simon Baptist, global chief economist at the research and advisory firm.

Five other European cities — Copenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt and Amsterdam — also made the top ten. Canada’s Calgary and Vancouver took the third and fifth spots respectively. Japan’s Osaka and Australia’s Melbourne shared 10th place — the only two “Asian” cities that made it to the top 10.

The 172 cities that were included in the rating were assessed on these categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Biggest decliners
Cities in New Zealand and Australia were the biggest fallers in the EIU’s livability ranking.

New Zealand’s capital Wellington dived by 46 places, while Australia’s Adelaide and Perth lost their 2021 positions in the top 10. They are now in the 30th and 32nd place respectively.

Australian and New Zealand cities snagged six of the top 10 spots last year, but were “much, much lower down” on this year’s list as their partial reopening coincided with the spread of the more contagious omicron variant, Baptist told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Thursday.

But the EIU is optimistic that these cities would bounce back.

“We can expect to see Australian and New Zealand cities moving up the rankings next year, when we do the next round of the survey. And this will be because they will have relaxed more of their Covid restrictions,” said Baptist.

Other cities in the region saw their rankings slip as well.

Singapore fell three spots to 37th place this year, while Hong Kong dropped to 62nd place from 49th last year.

“This is a long term change, it’s not just about Covid. That is part of it. But Hong Kong’s loss of connectivity is likely to be permanent,” said Baptist, citing the decline of cultural and political freedom in the city.

Russian cities plunged
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine saw Moscow’s livability ranking fall by 15 places, while St. Petersburg dipped by 13 spots, the EIU reported.

“Both cities record a fall in scores owing to increased instability, censorship, imposition of Western sanctions and corporates withdrawing their operations from the country,” the report said.

The war on Ukraine also affected the rankings of other Eastern European cities that have been facing political standoffs security threats, food and energy insecurities, and rising inflation, EIU said.

For example, Poland’s Warsaw and Hungary’s Budapest saw their stability scores slip as a result of rising diplomatic tensions, the EIU added.

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was also excluded from this year’s report, and 33 new cities — 11 of them in China — were added.

The top 10
These are the world’s most livable cities and their scores, according to The Global Liveability Index 2022:

  1. Vienna, Austria (99.1)
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark (98.0)
  3. TIE — Zurich, Switzerland (96.3)
  4. TIE — Calgary, Canada (96.3)
  5. Vancouver, Canada (96.1)
  6. Geneva, Switzerland (95.9)
  7. Frankfurt, Germany (95.7)
  8. Toronto, Canada (95.4)
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands (95.3)
  10. TIE — Osaka, Japan (95.1)
  11. TIE — Melbourne, Australia (95.1)

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