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Rockets Fired At US Embassy In Baghdad Amid Gaza War

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Salvoes of rockets were launched Friday at the US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, the mission said, the latest in a flurry of such attacks amid the Israel-Hamas war.

A multi-rocket attack was launched at US and Coalition forces in the vicinity of Union III and the Baghdad embassy complex” without causing any reported casualties or damage, a US official said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The United States leads an international coalition battling jihadists in Iraq and neighbouring Syria, and its forces have come under repeated attacks in recent weeks.

The attacks come against the backdrop of the more than two-month war between US ally Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

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In a statement, the US embassy said “two salvoes of rockets” were fired at the mission compound at around 4.15am (0115 GMT).

“Indications are the attacks were initiated by Iran-aligned militias,” said a US spokesperson.

We again call on the government of Iraq… to do all in its power to protect diplomatic and coalition partner personnel and facilities.

“We reiterate that we reserve the right to self-defence and to protect our personnel anywhere in the world,” the spokesperson added.

Since mid-October, there have been dozens of rocket or drone strikes by pro-Iran groups against US or coalition forces in Iraq as well as in Syria.

But Friday’s rocket attack was the first against the US embassy in Baghdad since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, raising regional tensions and fears of a wider conflict.

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An Iraqi security official said “Three Katyusha rockets targeting the American embassy fell close to the Green Zone,” near the river Tigris. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

There are roughly 2,500 US troops in Iraq and about 900 in Syria as part of efforts to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.

– Around 80 attacks –

After the end of a seven-day pause in the war between Israel and Iran-backed Hamas last week, pro-Iran groups resumed their attacks against US and coalition forces, justifying their actions by pointing to American support for Israel.

In Iraq, most were claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose formation of armed groups affiliated with the Hashed al-Shaabi coalition of former paramilitaries who are now integrated into Iraq’s regular armed forces.

US forces have struck Iran-linked targets in both Iraq and Syria in response.

On Sunday a US military official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed a “self-defence strike” was carried out in northern Iraq against a drone launch site “in the vicinity of Kirkuk” against “an imminent threat”.

READ ALSO: Israel Sends Dozens Of Tanks Into Southern Gaza

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq later announced the death of “five martyrs”.

That strike came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said during a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Baghdad rejected “any attack on Iraqi territory”, according to a statement from Sudani’s office.

Sudani also said the Iraqi government was committed “to ensuring the safety of the international coalition advisers present in Iraq”.

On Wednesday, a US military official said a drone had targeted Western troops at the Ain al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq, but there were no casualties or damage.

READ ALSO: Five Countries Seek ICC Investigation Into Gaza War

In total, Washington has counted at least 78 attacks since October 17 against its forces in Iraq and Syria, 10 days after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

The Israel-Hamas war began with the Palestinian militant group’s unprecedented attack on Israeli soil, which killed around 1,200 people and saw about 240 people captured as hostages, according to Israeli officials.

In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched a large-scale military offensive that has killed 17,177 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Hamas government.

The attacks against US personnel included rocket fire and drone strikes, and have left at least 60 US personnel wounded, the Pentagon says.

AFP

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JUST IN: NLC Suspends Nationwide Protest, Extends Ultimatum To FG

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has suspended its nationwide protests, which were held in different states of the federation earlier on Tuesday.

The Labour, in a communiqué at the end of its National Executive Council meeting, said the objectives of the protest were achieved on the first day of the demonstration.

The communique partly reads, “Consequently, NEC-in-session resolved as follows: to suspend street action for the second day of the Protest having achieved overwhelming success thus attained the key objectives of the 2-day protest on the first day.”

READ ALSO: BREAKING: Protesters Storm Jos Streets, Demand End To Hardship, Insecurity

Recall that Nigeria has been hit by rising inflation, food inflation, forex crisis, economic hardship and high cost of living occasioned by the removal of petrol subsidy, attracting protests in parts of the country.

The Presidency had engaged labour leaders in a last-minute talks on Monday night but the meeting ended in a stalemate as the NLC insisted that the protest was going to hold.

But, the NLC grounded economic activities across the country on Tuesday, with labour leader Joe Ajaero, saying that the protest was about hunger and not just a clamour for a review of the minimum wage.

Ajaero said, “You have to understand it. This protest is about hunger. What of those who are not working? The minimum wage, when will it be completed? When will it be implemented? What will be the minimum wage that will remove hunger?”

The communiqué further stated, “the highest organ of the NLC suspended street action for the second day of the Protest having achieved overwhelming success thus attained the key objectives of the 2-day protest on the first day.

READ ALSO: Hardship: Workers Begin Protest In Ondo

“However, Nationwide action continues tomorrow with simultaneous Press Conferences across all the states of the federation by the state Councils of the Congress including the National Headquarters.

“To reaffirm and extend the 7-days ultimatum by another 7 days which now expires on the 13th day of March, 2024 within which the Government is expected to implement all the earlier agreement of the 2nd day of October, 2023 and other demands presented in our letter during today’s nationwide protest.

“To meet and decide on further lines of action if on the expiration of the 14days Government refuses to comply with the demands as contained in the ultimatum.”

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I Went From Millionaire To Zeronaire, Bash Ali Laments At 68

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Former World Boxing Federation Cruiserweight Champion, Bashiru Lawrence Ali, aka Bash Ali, took to social media on Tuesday to reflect on his commitment to fighting corruption as he celebrates his 68th birthday.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Ali recounted the sacrifices he endured over 17 years in his quest to host his Guinness World Record Boxing Championship Fight in Nigeria, emphasizing his refusal to succumb to corrupt practices.

The former World Boxing Federation Champion revealed that his principled stand had cost him dearly, resulting in a decline in his financial fortunes from being a millionaire in dollars to having virtually nothing in Naira.

He wrote: “Today Tuesday, February 27 is my birthday.

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“For 17 years I struggled in vain to host in my country, Nigeria my Guinness World Record Boxing Championship Fight because I was bold to say no to corruption in sport in particular and in Nigeria in general.

“In 17 years, I went from being a millionaire in dollars to a zeronaire in naira.

“In 17 years, I was beaten and injured that I had to be admitted twice and treated at the National Hospital in Abuja.

“In 17 years, I was detained eight times at various police stations in Abuja. In 17 years, I was once detained at Kuje Prison for 43 days.

READ ALSO: Tinubu Launches expatriate Employment Levy

“I went through hell in my country not because I am a criminal but because I say no to corruption. Despite juicy offers to fight outside of Nigeria, I never gave up on my dream to fight in Nigeria and I never gave up on Nigeria.

“Today, our dream is finally becoming a reality and because I am an extraordinary human being, I am going to fight until I am 70 years old, retire young and healthy with a lot of money and then go on to be the President of Nigeria. This is my ultimate goal so mark my words.

“Thank u very much for always being by my side. I appreciate you, always. Happy birthday The Great Bash Ali.”

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FULL LIST: Agencies That May Be Scrapped Based On Oronsaye 800-page Report

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President Bola Tinubu has ordered the full implementation of the Oronsaye report.⁣

As a result, the government announced the merging, subsuming, scrapping, and relocation of several agencies.

In 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan established the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions, and Agencies, with Mr. Steve Oronsaye as the Chairman.

Coming from a private sector background, Oronsaye transitioned into the civil service at a senior level and ascended to the position of Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

Submitted in 2012, the Oronsaye report highlighted the existence of 541 Federal Government parastatals, commissions, and agencies, both statutory and non-statutory.

The 800-page report recommended the reduction of statutory agencies from 263 to 161, scrapping 38 agencies, merging 52, and reverting 14 to departments in different ministries.

A previous investigation by The PUNCH found that the Nigerian government has the potential to save more than N241bn if the recommendations are put into action.

READ ALSO: 20 Insights Into Oronsaye Report As EFCC, FRSC, Others Set For Merger

Below is a list of some of the agencies that may be scrapped if the Oronsaye report is fully implemented as ordered by President Tinubu:

One of the key suggestions in the report is the consolidation of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission into a single agency.

Additionally, the report recommended the elimination of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, with their responsibilities being incorporated into the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
The Salaries and Wages Income Commission is likely to face a similar fate..
38 Federal Agencies were recommended for abolition, including the Public Complaints Commission, National Poverty Eradication Programme, Utilities Charges Commission, National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, National Intelligence Committee, and more.
National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS be merged as a Department under the Centre for Disease Control in the Federal Ministry of Health.
The merger of National Emergency Management and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Tinubu Orders Full Implementation Of Oronsanye Report⁣ ⁣

The Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa be abolished and its functions, along with those of the Technical Aids Corps, transferred to an appropriate Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Infrastructure Concessionary and Regulatory Commission be subsumed in the Bureau of Public Enterprises for greater synergy and their enabling laws amended accordingly.
It was suggested that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and the Nigerian Metrological Agency should be combined into a new entity called the Federal Civil Aviation Authority, with their laws adjusted to accommodate the merger.
The committee suggested merging the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to enhance resource management and utilisation.
The committee suggested repealing the enabling law of the National Commission for Nomadic Education and transferring the Commission’s activities to the Universal Basic Education Commission.
The National Council of Arts and Culture will combine with the National Theatre and the National Troupe to form a single organisation.

READ ALSO: Peter Obi Knocks Tinubu Over Arrest Of BDC Operators

The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure be merged with National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization and Project Development Institute
The committee suggested that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission be abolished, with the government focusing solely on offering consular services and vaccinations to prospective pilgrims.
The Nigerian Communications Commission, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission and the regulatory functions of the Nigerian Postal Services were recommended by the committee to be merged.
The National Information Technology Development Agency to be fused into the Ministry of Communication Technology
Nigerian Television Authority, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria & Voice of Nigeria into the Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria.
The Nigerian Army University to be merged with the Nigerian Defence Academy; to function as a faculty with the the Nigerian Defence Academy.

Air Force institute of Technology also to function as faculty within Nigerian Defence Academy.
Debt Management Office to become an extra-ministerial department in the Federal Ministry of Finance Public Health Department to return to the Federal Ministry of Health
The Nigerian Investment Promotion Council was recommended to merge with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to enhance resource management and utilisation.

One important recommendation from the committee was to stop providing government funding to professional bodies and councils. Therefore, it is necessary to revise the Professional Bodies (Special Provisions) Act of 1972, which requires the government to offer financial assistance to these organisations.

The list comprises various professional councils and boards in Nigeria, such as the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, Computer Professionals Council of Nigeria, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, Nigeria Press Council, Architects Registration Council, Council for Registered Engineers of Nigeria, Estate Surveyors’ Registration Board, Town Planners Council, Nigerian Builders Council, Quantity Surveyors’ Registration Board of Nigeria, and Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists.

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