News / Africa

Nigeria Files Fresh Charges Against Lebanese Accused of Terrorism

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
Three Lebanese men imprisoned in Nigeria have been accused of "terrorism-related" crimes after previous charges were dismissed last week on a technicality. The three are suing the government for nearly $19 million on the grounds of unlawful imprisonment, while lawyers are trying to negotiate the release of a fourth man who was arrested.

The four men of Lebanese nationality were arrested between May 16 and May 28 in northern Nigeria, and have been in police custody ever since.

But defense attorney Robert Clarke argues that when prosecutors charged his clients in a court that had no jurisdiction over terrorism-related crimes, they essentially were not charging the men at all.

He says in Nigeria it is illegal to jail people for an unreasonable period of time without charging them with a crime.    

“They have been arrested for the period of almost 40 days, in breach of the constitutional provisions of Nigeria that accused persons can only be held in detention without lawful escapes not more than 48 hours,” Clarke said.

Last week, defense lawyers argued that all four men should receive more than $6 million each in damages for unlawful imprisonment.  

On Monday, lawyers agreed to negotiate for the release of one of the accused, Hussain Nurudeen, and said he will not be suing.  Clarke says the prosecution has already filed fresh “terrorism-related” charges against his other three clients in the Federal High Court, but an arraignment date has not been set.  
 
Prosecutor Clifford Osagie declined to comment on the details of the charges, but the men have previously been accused of being the owners of a massive stash of heavy artillery found in northern Nigeria, including anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s.  Many of the weapons appeared to be severely corroded and others were covered in rust.  Defense lawyers say the men neither own those weapons nor know who does.

Clarke says he does not yet have details of the charges, but says the three men will be suing regardless of the seriousness of the alleged crimes.

“We are asking the court that despite and in spite of anything we are still entitled to damages,” Clarke said.

The four Lebanese men have been accused of being members of Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese political party and militant group that is considered a terrorist organization in the United States.  
 
But another defense lawyer, Ahmed Raji, says being a member of Hezbollah is not a crime in Nigeria because it is not legally considered a terrorist organization in the country.  He says the men have not been accused of conducting actual attacks.
 
“The accusation is possession of weapons to be used for terrorist activity, that is all,” Raji said.
 
The accused are all long-time residents of Nigeria and prominent businessmen in the capital and the northern city of Kano.  Some analysts say the arrests are a sign of Iran and Hezbollah’s growing interest in using the chaos in West Africa as a staging ground for attacks against the United States and Israel.

Others disagree, saying increasing reports could mean increased fear mongering, and not an actual trend.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid