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Senate panel to examine petition against Amaechi

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The Senate has  promised to look into the petition submitted against the nomination of former Rivers State Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as a minister.

Amaechi, who was also Director General, Buhari Campaign Organisation, was one of the 21 ministerial nominees unveiled on Wednesday by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Three senators from Rivers State –  George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East), Olaka Nwogu (Rivers South-East) and Osinakachukwu Ideazu (Rivers West) – submitted an 88-page petition to the Senate against the nomination and confirmation of Amaechi as minister.

The petition, written by a Non-Governmental Organisation, “The Integrity Group”, based in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, was submitted to the Senate by Sekibo on behalf of the other senators.

Entitled, “Petition against ministerial nominee: Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi: Demand to withdraw and reject his nomination and appointment on the ground of corruption, criminal breach of trust, unlawful enrichment and conversion of over N70 billion Rivers peoples’ monies by the former governor of Rivers State, Sekibo said it was endorsed one Livingstone Wechie on behalf of the group and thousands of others.

The submission of the petition provoked a spontaneous protest in the chamber mostly by All Progressives Congress (APC) senators who kicked against it.

Although the shout of “No way, No way, impossible” rented the Senate chamber, Sekibo was undeterred until he concluded reading the synopsis of the petition as required by the Senate’s standing rule.

Sekibo informed the Senate that the petition bordered principally on corruption and criminal breach of trust levied against Amaechi.

When the protest against the petition subsided, Senate President Bukola Saraki referred the controversial document to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges for consideration.

Sekibo’s seat was instantly crowded by some senators. Others followed him to his office apparently to pick a copy of the petition.

Sekibo later threw more light on the petition when he spoke with reporters.

He said: “There is this group that is called ‘The Integrity Group’; they believe in transparency, fighting against corruption; they believe in good governance and effective utilisation of every fund that is allocated to any state government.

“They are based in Port Harcourt. They went into a research and discovered that over N70billion was transferred from hard currency account to places outside the country.

“A petition on this note was written to Mr. President. I believe the President has not read it. If he has read it, he may not have hurriedly nominated Rotimi Amaechi to be a minister.

“Amaechi is qualified to be a minister but when issues of corruption and fraud are openly x-rayed by people, it is necessary for Mr. President to take a critical look and examine the allegations from these people, whether they are true or not.

“Mr. President is preaching against corruption; we applaud him for the corruption fight he is waging against whoever.

“So, if you are fighting against corruption, then there must not be any sacred cow. No matter how close a person is to you, if there are allegations about him, you must spend time to critically look at them, whether there are truth about the allegations that have been so submitted.

“I am informed that this petition was forwarded to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) a month or two ago and I am also informed that the EFCC is also commencing to carry out investigation.

“So, why not allow this period to go over and allow them to do their investigation and come out with the result?

“It may be mere allegation but assuming they are true, as a serving minister with a very big portfolio and EFCC is investigating you, can they get the result of what they are looking for?

“They will not get it.  We are not stopping Mr. President from appointing a Rivers man to be a minister; we will welcome it. There are many APC members who were not indicted or accused of such similar issues.

“So, we have not seen the haste in pushing Amaechi to be a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“On the other hand, the Rivers State Government set up a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate the sale of state government-owned property.”

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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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