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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs