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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid