Saturday 22 June 2013
Hezbollah: Jonathan met our leader at Aso Rock, Lebanese suspects tell Court
Three suspected Lebanese terrorists, Mustapha Roda Darwish Fawaz, Talal Roda, and Abdulla Tahini, alleged to have imported arms into the country yesterday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that a prominent member of their group identified as, Hussein Hajj once met and shook hands with President Goodluck Jonathan.
The suspects, including the co-owner of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland resort in Abuja, Fawaz, who were alleged to be members of Hezbollah terrorist organisation, further told the court that the large cache of arms recovered from them by the Military Joint Task Force, JTF, were mere hunting-riffles, insisting that the Nigerian government has no right to curtail their fundamental human rights on the allegation that they constitute threat to its national security.
The weapons recovered from a bunker at 3 Gaya Road, off Bompai Street, Kano, following a search by a combined team of the JTF including soldiers from 3-Brigade and the Department of State Services, DSS, on the bunker, included anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled guns, anti-tank/anti-personnel mines among other dangerous weapons.
According to the security operatives that conducted the search, the arms and ammunition were properly concealed with several layers of concrete and placed in coolers, drums and bags neatly wrapped.
Meantime, the accused persons have urged the court to not only order their immediate release from the custody of the DSS, but to award them cost to the tune of N50billion, adding that contrary to allegation against them that their organisation was a terrorist group, Hezbollah is a political party in Lebanon.
Counsel to the accused persons, Mr Ahmed Raji, SAN, produced pictures before the court showing where the said leading member of the organization, Dr Hussein Hajj, met with President Jonathan at the Aso Rock Villa, contending that the Nigerian government abused their right when it earlier dragged them before a Chief Magistrate Court in Karu, which they said lacked the competence to try them.
Meantime, the Federal Government, yesterday, asked the High Court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit as grossly lacking in merit, saying it has uncovered more evidence to prove that the suspects belong to the military wing of Hezbolla which it described as a terrorist organization.
Counsel to the government, Mr Clifford Osagie, informed the court that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, has already entered a fresh six-count terrorism charge against them before the Federal High Court.
Osagie said, “We have proofs that the applicants belong to the military wing of Hezbolla which is a terrorist organization and in the coming days, this country will know more about them. The applicants had in their affidavit attached pictures of someone who was shaking hands with President Jonathan saying the President knew he was a member of Hezbollah. If they could do that, then why have they failed to attach the register of membership of Hezbollah as a political party?
“Likewise, we urge this court to disregard their argument that what were recovered from them were hunting-riffles. What we found were assorted weapons of terror and prohibited fire arms. They are people who hunt human beings and terrorists do so!
“Even if, without conceding that they were Air or Hunting- Riffles, our animals are protected in this country. I do not know about their own country. Besides, they need to tell this court where they have gone hunting in this country. They want to kill us. They hunt human beings. They need to show this court that they have license for such deadly weapons.”
Relying on the case of Dokubo Asari Vs FRN, Osagie, maintained that where national security is in question, individual rights take second place.
“This is a case where the security of Nigeria has been called to question by individuals who have benefited so much from this country; who have made immense wealth from the liberality of this nation. The activities of the applicants threaten the national security of Nigeria and the corporate existence of this country. They cannot lift up their fundamental human rights as the basis to breach national security. The Attorney General, on June 20, 2013, filed a six- count charge against them. Once the case is assigned and a date fixed for arraignment, their trial will commence.
“We therefore urge this court to dismiss this application in its entirety as being of no substance, frivolous and intended to pervert the course of justice. It is not in the interest of Nigeria or our national security. It lacks merit,” he added.
Meantime, the trial judge, Justice Ademola Adeniyi has adjourned the case till Monday to enable counsel to the applicants reply on points of law to the arguments of the Federal Government, even as he ordered that the suspects be remanded in the custody of the DSS.
Government had in its affidavit against the suit, maintained that “Mustapha Fawaz (2nd respondent) was arrested on May 11, 2013. His residences at Wonderland Amusement Park, Abuja, and 58 Adetokumbo Ademola Street Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, were duly searched in the course of which prohibited firearms and other incriminating items were discovered. A copy of the duly endorsed search warrant and pictures of the said firearms are hereby exhibited and marked exhibits 1 and 1(A-D) respectively.
“That further investigation led to the arrest of Abdullah Tahini (1st respondent) on May 12, 2013 at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, on his way to Egypt en route Lebanon. He was found to be in possession of $61, 170.”
The government further told the court that “On May 26, 2013, the 3 Gaya Road, Nasarawa Local Government Area, Kano residence of one Ahmed Hassan Taher, a relative of the 2nd respondent (now at large) was searched. At the material time, Talal Roda (3rd respondent) and a suspect in the unfolding investigation was found in the house. He was arrested in the course of the search which was conducted in his presence as he had access to the hidden recesses discovered in the premises.
“A further search of the Kano residence led to the discovery of large cache of sophisticated weapons and weapons of mass destruction. It was a war arsenal. A copy of the duly endorsed search warrant executed on the residence as well as pictures of the discovered prohibited arms are exhibited and marked exhibits 2.
By IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI, Abuja