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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs