News / Africa

Lebanese Men Accused of Terrorism Sue Nigeria for $25 Million

Military officials stand near ammunitions seized from suspected members of Hezbollah after a raid of a building in Kano, Nigeria, May 30, 2013.
Military officials stand near ammunitions seized from suspected members of Hezbollah after a raid of a building in Kano, Nigeria, May 30, 2013.
Heather Murdock
Four Lebanese men accused of being Hezbollah members remain imprisoned in Nigeria after a court dismissed weapons and terrorism related charges against them on a technicality. The men are suing the government for nearly $25 million for unlawful detention, but lawyers say the government also may present new charges Friday in a higher court.
 
This story started in May with a stash of weapons that security forces say they discovered under a house in the northern city of Kano.  
 
Reporters took pictures of rifles, anti-tank weapons, piles of ammunition and a rocket-propelled grenade. Many of the weapons were badly corroded.
 
Security forces told the reporters it all belonged to Hezbollah, a prominent Lebanese political party and Iranian-backed militant group. Hezbollah also is considered a terrorist organization by the United States. Security forces say the weapons were intended for attacks on American and Israeli interests in Nigeria.  

Brigadier-General Ilyasu Abba said, “If these things had been brought out, only God knows the type of destruction this thing will bring. The department of State Security Services in Abuja has been carrying out an investigation for a very, very long time.”  

After the weapons were discovered, four Lebanese men were arrested and accused of plotting terrorist attacks for Hezbollah. One of the men, Mustapha Fawaz, is well known around here. He is the co-owner of an amusement park and a popular supermarket called Amigos in the capital.  
 
Before the arrests, dozens of cars used to constantly pack into Amigos’ roughly 10-space parking lot in this ritzy commercial district, and young men would sell DVDs and mangoes to the crowds.
 
Now closed, a single police officer sits in a white plastic chair outside the store. Just outside the central city, security forces also have shuttered Wonderland Amusement Park.  
 
Meanwhile on the outskirts of Abuja, the four accused enter a small courthouse, exchanging quiet greetings with well-wishers as they pass by to take their place in the front of the room.  
 
The hearing wrapped up quickly. The defense asked for charges to be dismissed because they are in the wrong court, saying that only the Federal High Court can hear such a serious case. The prosecution agreed and the men were sent back to jail, with no pending charges.
 
Outside the courthouse the prosecutor declined to comment on what they plan to do, but defense attorney Ahmed Raji said the government is continuing to investigate his clients and said they may be charged again in a hearing scheduled for Friday at the high court.
 
“Right now no charges against them because the only one they have filed has been discharged. So right now until they finish their investigation we don’t know what will come of it,” said Raji.

He said the men have never been accused of carrying out attacks, but of storing weapons and other terrorist-related activities - charges he said all are false. On Friday they also may be accused of being members of Hezbollah, which, he says, is not actually a crime in Nigeria like it is in the U.S.
 
Some analysts say these arrests may be part of what could be an Iranian and Hezbollah plot to use West Africa as a staging ground for attacks against the West.
 
Outside the court, defense lawyer Raji said they are suing for nearly $25 million for unlawfully detaining his clients for a month without charges, and he will ask for their immediate release. When asked if they want the court to order security forces to let them re-open the shop and the amusement park, he said they will “take it up at the right time.”

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid