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Sultan offers to hold talks with Boko Haram

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Sultan of Sokoto
Sultan of Sokoto

Sultan of Sokoto

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111, on Tuesday offered to hold talks with Boko Haram, if the Federal Government approves, to end the terror attacks by its members.

Abubakar, at a dinner for reporters on Monday night in Sokoto as part of the Ramadan, also urged the Federal Government to engage the Boko Haram in a dialogue.

But he warned that government should hold peace talks with the insurgents from a position of strength. He said: “We are ready to go anywhere to talk to anybody as long as there is a formula of what to be done. We don’t have any legal authority to call for a dialogue with any insurgent; the Federal Government must make the move.

“I have said it so many times that no amount of force can defeat insurgents. Dialogue is the best option, but we must negotiate on the platform of strength so that there will be peace. You must be stronger than the person you are negotiating with and when the insurgent knows you are stronger, he will listen and agree to your terms and there will be peace.

“I have seen what happened during my stay in Pakistan for three years. I have seen what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even the United States of America is talking with the Taliban and Al- Qaeda. Even Pakistan, after fighting Taliban for several years, is following the path of dialogue. Why can’t we negotiate with Boko Haram and now release some prisoners for the Chibok girls?” The sultan also lamented the spike in Boko Haram attacks that have led to the rise in the death toll arising from the insurgency in the country. According to him, Nigeria can only achieve enduring peace through dialogue.

He also urged elected leaders to act to tame the insurgency in some parts of the country. He said: ”Elected leaders should do something urgently about this menace now so that Nigerians can go back to their normal lives in a country which is free. ”The Boko Haram people are not Muslims and their activities are not aimed at strengthening Islam; rather to destroy it. ”We must, therefore, condole with Nigerians over the senseless killings of innocent people in the past one week in Kano, Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Zaria, among others.”

The sultan dismissed claims that the Boko Haram insurgency was part of a plot to turn Nigeria into an Islamic nation. He said he would continue to work to ensure sustained harmony between the two major religions in Nigeria. He also welcomed the appointment of service chiefs and the National Security Adviser (NSA), saying, ‘‘we know them and we are confident that they will deliver.” The Chairman of the Sokoto council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Labaran Dundaye, commended the Sultan for sustaining the annual dinner.

“We will continue to operate according to the ethics of the noble profession of journalism to ensure the prevalence of peace and unity in Nigeria,” Dundaye said. Meanwhile, the United States has said the brutality and barbarism of Boko Haram know no bounds in view of the recent attacks by the insurgents on some countries in West Africa.

It also condemned the recent killings by Boko Haram in Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. In a statement yesterday by the US Embassy in Nigeria, the US Department of State’s spokesperson, John Kirby, said the US condemned the “horrific and indiscriminate” Boko Haram suicide attacks on the Grand Marche in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena on Saturday, as well as attacks in Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria “over the past two days.”

“Boko Haram’s targeting of men, women and children highlights that the group’s brutality and barbarism know no bounds and we remain committed to working closely with the region to root out the threat posed by the group. “We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the soldiers, government officials, and civilians killed; we hope those who were injured will recover quickly,” Washington said.

The US government, however, praised the security forces of the three countries for their timely responses to “these callous and cowardly attacks on innocent civilians.” It expressed its commitment to support the governments and people of the Lake Chad Basin region in their ongoing struggle to degrade and defeat Boko Haram.

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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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