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US tells Oshiomhole to disclose source of alleged $6bn oil theft

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Apparently embarrassed by the claim of Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, that a senior United States official had disclosed that a former Minister under President Goodluck Jonathan stole $6 billion Nigeria’s oil money during the official visit of President Muhammadu Buhari few weeks ago, the United States on Saturday, requested that the name of the US official, who made the disclosure, be made public.

A top US official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said at the appropriate time, the US would question Governor Oshiomhole on the comment attributed to him in the Nigerian media.

He stated further that President Barrack Obama was working on the request of President Buhari, who had sought for the assistance of the US to retrieve monies stolen by Nigerian officials.

According to him, Oshiomhole was trying to pre-empt the US, which would certainly publish names of those who looted Nigeria’s oil money in no distant future.

He added: “As of now, Obama is putting the necessary machinery in place to assist Nigeria’s President to curb corruption and other vices in the country.”

On July 26, after the return of President Buhari from the US, Governor Oshiomhole had told State House correspondents, after meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government of former President Jonathan had destroyed the country.

Oshiomhole, who was on the entourage of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States, said: “The PDP destroyed the country. I mean from the lips of American officials; senior officials of the State Department said one Minister under PDP cornered as much as $6 billion. The man said, even by Washington’s standard, this is earth-shattering.

“So, the PDP is a party that presided over the liquidation of our nation, destroyed all our institutions, converted the Armed Forces commanders to use them, as if they were political thugs, converted the Nigerian Television Authority to a party megaphone, destroyed the Department of State Services, went after opposition, as if we were rabbits to be pursued into holes, compromised even student unions, destroyed everything that you can think of, and elevated religion to a state affair.

“Under the party, Israel became a place you visit every week; they placed pastors against mallams, placed the North against the South, the East against the West, just to retain power; elevated Obas and Obis with dollars. You guys (journalists) were reporting dollars that were changing hands; when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was spending much more money than was available to the Federation Account.”

He had added: “We are a very patient people. If we were not a patient people, anybody wearing the tag of PDP ought to feel very unsafe because you are all victims – all of us here. Mr. Johnnie Carson, who was the Assistant Secretary of State, when we visited him in company with Senator (Bukola) Saraki, then as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum – that was at the eve of President Obama’s first visit to Africa – and we went to complain, ‘why is Nigeria not on the list?’

“What he said, for me, was quite instructive compared to what he said last week. Then I was present when he said ‘you know, we, who see ourselves not just as friends of Nigeria, each time we think there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is time to encourage Nigeria to build on it, you would wake up the following day under President Jonathan to find out that even the tunnel had been removed.

“Those were the words of Mr. Carson. Now last week, this same Carson chaired the President’s address at the Institute of Peace, and he said ‘we now have a man of enormous integrity; one that has shown so much faith in the democratic process; one that refused to be frustrated even in the face of massively-rigged elections.

He submitted to the judicial process, and even when that was compromised, he never gave up. America has done its check, and we are convinced that this President is the one that Nigeria needs at this time to regain its leadership of the African continent.’”

Oshiomhole added that he got information from top U.S officials on how some Nigeria politicians diverted oil money into their personal accounts.

There were speculations that President Buhari was further energised when he was told about the degree of theft of Nigeria’s money by the previous administration that he made up his mind to embark on probing the administration. It is believed that President Buhari embarked on massive overhaul of the Nigerian oil industry as a result of information now at his disposal on how Nigeria’s oil money was stolen.

The U. S Department of State official, who does not want his name mentioned at present, said that the country is making moves to question the source of Oshiomhole’s information.

The source revealed that: “We are taking a serious step when the time comes to question the said governor to explain where he got the tip-off. President Obama is still working on the request of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in helping him recover stolen funds. Already, the Homeland Security officials are on ground to do their jobs.

The U.S official criticized Oshiomhole for making the statements credited to him, saying: “The governor must have been pre-empting the US move to help Nigeria publish names of those who stole her oil money. At the right time, US officials will issue a press statement concerning the matter.”

 

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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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