July 31, 2013

Hezbollah: Court admits evidence against suspects

Hezbollah: Court admits  evidence against suspects

Lebanese terror suspects

By Ikechukwu  Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, admitted into evidence 23 sets of exhibits tendered against the three Lebanese suspects allegedly involved in illicit importation of arms into Nigeria.

The exhibits, which included guns, cartridge belt holders with ammunition, pellets for air rifles, 150 cartridges, 158 rounds of cartridges, two bound copies of still pictures of arms and ammuni-tions that were discovered in one of their premises at 3, Gaya Road, off Bompai Road in Kano, two video CDs and witness statements, were tendered against them by Federal Government.

Lebanese terror suspects

Lebanese terror suspects

Besides, the court, yesterday, took possession of $61,170,000 which one of the suspects, Mr. Abdullahi Thahini, allegedly attempted to smuggle out of the country on May 11.

The court earlier heard that the suspect, who is the second accused person in the matter, made efforts to bribe officials of the Department of State Security, DSS, that apprehended him at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, when he tried to escape the country to Beirut via a Middle Eastern airline.

Meantime, trial Justice Ademola Adeniyi adjourned the matter till today to enable the court see a video clip where the accused persons, allegedly exposed their involvement in the Hezbollah operations.

Aside Thahini, others on trial include the co-owner of Amigo Supermarket Limited and Wonderland Amusement Park Resort, Mustapha Fawaz and his compatriot, Tahal Roda.

, who was allegedly arrested inside the house where a large cache of arms and ammunition were discovered in an underground bunker in Kano state.

FG had in a 16-count amended charge it preferred against them alleged that they all belong and had training with the military wing of an alleged Lebanon based terrorist group, Hezbollah, an allegation the accused persons refuted, insisting that group was only a political party.

To further maintain their stand, the 1st accused persons, Fawaz, through their lead lawyer Mr Robert Clark, SAN, yesterday, informed the court that while he was being interrogated by the DSS, he repeatedly used an Arabic word “Mukawama” which he said meant that he merely belongs to a resistance group which he said has nothing to do with terrorism.

Meanwhile, the government yesterday produced five witnesses that testified against the accused persons, among whom included operatives of the DSS and the labourer that dug the room where the suspects allegedly concealed the recovered arms and ammunition.

The weapons which were retrieved by a combined team of the Joint Military Task Force, JTF involving soldiers from 3 Brigade in Kano and Kano DSS, included anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled guns, anti-tank/anti-personnel mines and other dangerous weapons.

According to the security operatives that conducted the search and the labourer who testified in court as the PW-9 yesterday, the arms and ammunition were properly concealed with several layers of concrete and placed in coolers, drums and bags neatly wrapped.

The security services had maintained that the weapons were intended to be used to attack Israeli and Western targets based in Nigeria.

According to the witness who addressed the court through an interpreter, “On May 28, some officials of the DSS came to the site where I was working and asked me to come and dig ground for them. They took me to No 3 Gaya road.

“When I started digging the room they took me to, at a point I saw a mat, when I removed it I saw a cover which after I removed it I saw a big hole. Inside the hole I saw big coolers. After we brought the coolers out and opened them, I saw guns that looked like that of the police. I heard them say there is bomb inside and other elements I don’t know,” he added.

Equally tendered before the court yesterday were three sets of both Nigerian and Lebanese passports belonging to the accused persons.