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Scores feared dead as fire guts plaza in popular Balogun Market in Lagos

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Several people were feared dead and others injured when a six storey plaza in the heart of the popular Balogun market in Lagos was gutted by fire on Thursday.

The plaza is surrounded by several important businesses which included the Union Bank, Diamond Bank and the United Bank for Africa (UBA).

It was also observed that the plaza which was being used as a wholesale and retail outlet for shoes and bags is directly beside and attached to Union Bank building.

Investigations revealed that the fire started at about 9:00 am and was battled by a team of combined fire fighters from the Union Bank and UBA before the arrival of the Lagos State Fire Service.

Some eye witnesses, who spoke to NAN, said that some people who jumped out from various floors of the burning plaza to escape the fire were carried away dead.

Mallam Hamza Abdullahi, a trader in the market told NAN that he saw three dead bodies and five people who were wounded.

“People were shouting and jumping down from up stairs, I saw a woman dead with her skull open,“ he said.

Mrs Florence Adewunmi, a staff of the Lagos State Ambulance Mobile Intensive Care Service (LASAMBUS) stationed at the scene told NAN that some victims had been stabilized and transferred to hospital.

“There are several casualties. We got a distress call at about 10am that there was fire outbreak at Balogun behind UBA.

“We proceeded here and learnt that they have rushed some people to General Hospital, Lagos but we met some casualties on ground.

“The patients jumped from the second, third and fourth floor and had fractures and various degrees of injuries.

“There were those that inhaled too much smoke so we gave some oxygen, some Dyclofenac injection, we treated ankle dislocations, we sutured deep cuts before carrying them to General Hospital, Lagos.

“So far, we have carried six people to hospital and discharged four after treatment,“ Adewunmi said.

One of shop owners who deals on female shoes, Mr Nonso Christian, told NAN that he came to the plaza at 10am and met it on fire.

“I met the plaza on fire and I tried to go in to bring out my goods but I couldn’t because the fire is too much.

“My shop is on the second floor and I just re-stocked on Monday, I don’t know what to do because the second floor is still on fire,“ he said.

Several other shop owners, who were wailing while watching the fire declined comment, one of them simply said “we are sad, this hard economy, where do I start from?’’

A security man attached to Union Bank, Mr Umoru Monday told NAN that the fire started a few minutes before the hour of 9:00 am.

“The Union Bank Fire Service came around and started pushing the fire back so that it would not enter the bank, and later the fire fighters from UBA came to assist them before the Lagos State Fire Service came,“ Monday told NAN.

An official of the Lagos State Fire Service carrying a cylinder on his back into the burning plaza declined comment.

He told NAN that senior officers of the service who could speak to press were attacking the fire on various floors.

“I cannot tell you anything, our fire boss is up in that burning building now and our main aim is to put the fire out. We are attacking it on various floors,“ he said.

A lone Police man battled to keep spectators away while security men of Diamond Bank situated beside Union Bank turned their customers away.(

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

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Dino Melaye

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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