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US, Iraq say ISIS blew up famous Mosul mosque

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The United States and Iraq said ISIS blew up a historic mosque in Mosul that was the ideological heart of the terror group and the birthplace of its self-declared caliphate.
ISIS, through its news agency, said US warplanes were responsible for the loss late Wednesday of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its leaning minaret.

US officials told CNN the ISIS claim was “1,000% false.”
Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the ISIS act amounts to “an official announcement of their defeat.” His military commanders said militants blew the mosque up after troops closed in.
It’s difficult to overstate the symbolism of the Old City mosque that has witnessed fierce fighting between ISIS militants and coalition forces determined to liberate what was the country’s second-largest city.

Before-and-after photographs of the destruction.


For years, the militant group’s black and white flag fluttered from the minaret, which has risen over the city for 800 years. Now the site has largely been reduced to rubble.
On July 4, 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi led Friday prayers in the mosque. Shrouded in a black turban and robes, the cleric declared the founding of a new caliphate and called on fellow Sunnis to carry out a holy war.

It was the first and last time the leader of the terrorist group spoke publicly to his followers. The mosque’s imam had been executed about a month earlier for refusing to join ISIS, according to the United Nations.
CNN’s Arwa Damon said Baghdadi’s declaration effectively broke down borders between Syria and Iraq, creating a magnet for foreign fighters wanting to join ISIS’ cause.
The Islamic complex has been very much on the mind of the Iraqi forces, who believed taking control of the mosque would be a highly symbolic victory. Federal police earlier this year said they looked forward to praying in al-Nuri — but the resistance continued.
US and coalition officials have observed the mosque for several days and have seen fighters and explosives at the site, several US officials have told CNN in recent days. The Iraqi military said “ISIS terrorist gangs” blew up the mosque as Iraqi forces were approaching.
The situation in Mosul has been desperate. As ISIS is being squeezed into even smaller territory — a handful of neighborhoods and Mosul’s old city — the civilians held hostage are running out of food. Residents said ISIS fighters have massacred people, young and old, trying to flee.
Damon said about 100,000 terrified civilians remain in the convoluted battlefield.

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CPC uncovers poisonous rice depot in Akwa Ibom, warns consumers over Mama Gold, Royal Stallion

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The Consumers Protection Council (CPC) has uncovered a depot where substandard and poisonous rice are being bagged in Akwa Ibom state, and sold to unsuspecting consumers.
CPC Director-General, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, who led his team and newsmen to the place at IBB Way in Uyo on Friday, said the Council has apprehended eight persons with over 1000 bags of the substandard rice worth millions of Naira confiscated.
The DG announced that those behind the act of re-bagging substandard rice to sell to unsuspecting consumers would be prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.
“This is the third of all the locations of our sting operation in Uyo with respect to putting away substandard product from the market, specifically rice.
“What we have found here is very sad, a proposed warehouse but nothing here than re-bagged substandard rice.
“All the perpetrators of this act would be prosecuted, not only prosecuting them, but I will advocate for our laws to be respected and sufficient provision for the Customs’ Act for the forfeiture of the building used for this illegality,” Irukera said.
He assured consumers that the monitoring exercise would be routine, to get rid of substandard products from the market and protect the health of consumers.
He urged consumers to be careful where they make their purchases, adding that when they are in doubt they should speak out.
“Consumers need to complain when things go wrong. If somebody buys something that is not good the person should complain. If you don’t like something, say something,” he said.
The DG further warned residents against buying Mama Gold and Royal Stallion rice as the products are no longer in the market.
Speaking to newsmen, one of the operatives of the shop in Udoma street in Etuk Market, Mr Kanayo Jackson, said that they have been in the business since 2013.
He said most of the people selling rice in Akpan Andem and Itam Market in Uyo metropolis have been in the business for long.
“It is not only in Udoma Steet that people are re-bagging rice, there are many other places like Akpan Andem and Itam market.
“I am only working for my brother, Mr Jackson. We buy the empty bags and re-bag the rice for sale.”
He told newsmen that security operatives have been coming to the shop before, but their boss used to “settle” the security operatives.

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AT A GLANCE: Enugu airport, Maritime University… major projects affected by n’assembly’s cuts

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday signed the 2018 budget into law, eight months after he presented the proposal to the national assembly.
In his budget signing speech, the president said the national assembly reduced the provisions for some projects and added 6,403 projects of their own to the budget.
The provisions for the National Housing Programme, Mambilla power plant, Second Niger Bridge, and security infrastructure for Unity schools were slashed.
The takeoff grant for Maritime University and the construction of a terminal building at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, were also affected.
At present, flights cannot operate at night at the Enugu airport because there are no approach lights, which should be installed at both ends of the runway.
Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, has said an upgrade of the airport would result in job creation and investments. However, the president says the national assembly’s actions will delay the completion of the project.
Here are some of the major projects whose provisions got slashed by the national assembly.
PROJECT REDUCED BY NEW BUDGET
Construction of the terminal building at Enugu Airport N1.5 billion N500 million
Mambilla power plant, Second Niger Bridge, East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project N11.5 billion N/A
Abuja mass transit rail project, arterial roads N7.5 billion N/A
Rehabilitation of United Nations Building, Abuja N3.9 billion N100 million
Establishment of chemotherapy centres, upgrade of tertiary health institutions N7.45 billion N/A
Security infrastructure for Unity schools N3 billion N/A
National housing programme N8.7 billion N/A
Pension redemption fund and Public service wage adjustment N5 billion N/A
Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks N14.5 billion N/A
Take off grant for Maritime University, Delta state N1.6 billion N3.4 billion

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2018 budget: Buhari govt gives breakdown of allocations

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The Federal Government says in spite of the delay in signing the 2018 Appropriation Bill into law, it is determined to ensure effective execution.
Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister of Budget and Planning, gave the assurance on Thursday in Abuja at the presentation of the approved 2018 Budget of Consolidation.
The N9.12 trillion 2018 budget was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday after it was raised from N8.61 trillion by the National Assembly.
Giving a breakdown of the allocations, Udoma said capital expenditure would gulp 31.5 per cent of the total expenditure at N2.87 trillion, adding that this was more than N2.36 trillion allocated in 2017.
Recurrent non-debt spending would rise from N2.99 trillion in 2017 to N3.51 trillion in 2018.
Udoma said the Federal Government planned to spend N2.01 trillion on debt servicing (21 per cent of budget), adding that provision to retire maturing bond to local contractors increased by seven per cent from N177 billion in 2017 to N190 billion for the current fiscal year.
He explained this was in view of the ambitious plan to liquidate all contractor debt arrears of the Federal Government going back several years.
He said that the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had the highest allocation with N715 billion for both recurrent and capital expenditure, Ministry of Interior would get N577 billion while Ministry of Defence was allocated N576 billion.
Ministry of Education was allocated N542 billion, Ministry of Health N356 billion, Ministry of Transportation, N267 billion and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N203 billion.
Others are Ministry of Water Resources, N155 billion, Office of the National Security Adviser, N123 billion, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, N118 billion, and Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, N116 billion.
He added that the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was allocated N112 billion.
Udoma, while highlighting some of the projects to be carried out in the year, said infrastructure, security and human development were the focus of the government.
He said N530.8 million would be used in constructing the terminal building at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu , and N8.32 billion used for the construction of the second runway of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
According to him, while N162.28 billion was scheduled as counterpart funding for railway projects, N9.4 billion was set aside as counterpart fund for the Mambilla hydro-power project.
He said that N344 billion was allocated for the construction and rehabilitation of several roads nationwide and N26.7 billion allocated to National Housing Programme.
For health, he said N55.15 billion had been allocated to the implementation of the National Health Act, while N300 million had been set aside for health emergencies and contagious diseases outbreaks.
For agriculture, Udoma said over N25.1 billion was allocated for promotion and development of value chain across more than 30 different commodities to ensure food security,
He also said that N5.30 billion was allocated for National Grazing Reserve Development.
The minister said that procurement of ammunition of various types and calibers would cost N5.3 billion, while construction of new military barracks in five geo-political zones would gulp N2.3 billion.
For mines and steel, he said N644 million would be used for the establishment of mining regulatory agency for the sector and N450 million used to reclaim abandoned mine sites.
For education, Udoma said the Universal Basic Education Commission was allocated N109 billion and N9.2 billion allocated for various scholarship allowances.
He added that N65 billion was allocated for re-integration of transformed ex-militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme, while N45 billion was allocated for the Federal Initiative for North-East (Pilot counterpart funding contribution).
Udoma said that the goal of the 2018 budget was to consolidate on the g

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