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Kano Arms Cache: Court reserves judgement on Hezbollah suspects, ThisDay Bomber

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday reserved judgment on the matter involving three Lebanese nationals, Mustapha Fawaz, Abdallah Tahini and Talal Ahmad Roda, owners of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park Abuja, for alleged importation and possession of large cache of prohibited arms and ammunitions.

The reservation of judgment date by the presiding judge, Justice Ademola Adeniyi was sequel to the adoption of final written addresses and oral submissions by Simon Egede, the prosecution counsel and Robert Clarke, on behalf of the defence counsels.

The trio, alongside Amigo Park and Wonderland are facing trial on an amended 16-count charge of terrorism related acts.

In another terrorism related matter, Justice  Adeniyi has reserved judgement on Mustaphar Umar, a suspected member of the Boko Haram sect linked to the 2012 bombing of SOJ building housing three media houses in Kaduna state.

In adopting his addresses, Clarke urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused persons based on five grounds.

The defence counsel sought to know from the court whether Hezbollah as an organization or its military wing has been declared a terrorist organization in Nigeria.

He posed another question that, “By virtue of provisions of the Federal High Court, whether the accused persons can be tried in Abuja, when the evidence before this court showed that the alleged offence was committed in Kano, about 500km away”.

Clarke also asked the court to determine, “whether the mere possession of foreign currency by the 2nd accused person without further evidence to show how he acquired the amount is sufficient to charge a person under money laundering Act”.

The defence counsel also submitted that the non physical presentation and production of the alleged cache of weapons has robbed Justice Adeniyi, the opportunity of determining whether the weapons were actually sophisticated armoury used by terrorists or mere toys.

Clarke claimed that what was tendered in evidence before the court were mere photographs, which according to him posed credibility questions, adding that the accused persons were not around when the photographs were taken at No 3 Gaya Road Kano.

“This is a criminal trial where allegations should be proven beyond every reasonable doubt; the reason why no credibility should be attached to the photographs is that the accused persons were not around when they were taken. The prosecution conveniently and deliberately refused to bring them especially the 3rd accused person” Clarke pointed out.

He insisted that the, photographer should have been brought to court to show the negative of the film and identify the weapons, at least to add a bit of credibility to the document (photograph), which he said, the prosecution never did.

Clarke posited that convicting the accused persons would pitch Nigeria against the international community, particularly Arab nations because according to him, Hezbollah is not an outlawed organization in Nigeria and “there is no official gazette to that effect”.

More so, he submitted that, “Since there is no gazette before the court showing the declaration of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in Nigeria and your Lordship is not the President of Nigeria, the situation therefore draws the carpet for counts one to six to fail because you cannot build something on nothing”.

“Before your Lordship can convict the accused persons, it is compulsory that the court will declare Hezbollah and its military wing as a terrorist organization. But then, it is only the President of Nigeria that has the constitutional power to make such declaration” Clarke argued.

He therefore urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused persons based on the five grounds raised, observing that Nigeria has not domesticated any law banning Hezbollah organization.

Similarly, the prosecution counsel, Simon Egede while adopting his addresses, objected to the issue of non physical production of exhibits 7A (alleged weapons) raised by Clarke.

“It is a new issue raised this morning in court, it was not canvassed; therefore, I urge the court to discountenance it as it was not premised on any legal authority or decision of any superior court” Egede submitted.

On the contrary, the prosecution counsel said the tendering of the photographs and video CDs in evidence are supported by Section 26(1) and Section 31(3) of the TPA, stressing that, “we have tried to move the court to Kano but the court was hesitant”.

On the issue of whether Hezbollah has been declared a terrorist organization in Nigeria, Egede argued that Section 40 of Terrorism Prevention Act has defined the term “terrorist organization”, insisting that, “you need not any presidential declaration or gazette in this case as far as your activities fall within the definition of terrorism act as contained in Section 40.

Further, Egede argued that under the new amendment, Section 19(g) of the TPA, 2013, the said Act recognised international conventions which have equally defined terrorism acts, pointing out that as signatory to the convention; the provision applies in the country.

In the same vein, he posited that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter, adding that Section 32(1) stipulates that the Federal High Court located in Nigeria regardless of where terrorism offence was committed shall have jurisdiction to entertain such case.

He therefore urged the court to convict the accused persons on all charges and sentence them accordingly.

In another terrorism related matter, Justice  Adeniyi has reserved judgement on Mustaphar Umar, a suspected member of the Boko Haram sect linked to the 2012 bombing of SOJ building housing three media houses in Kaduna state.

Both the defence counsel Nureini Suleiman and prosecution counsel S.M Labaran yesterday adopted their final written addresses and oral submissions.

At the last adjourned date, Justice Adeniyi ruled that Umar’s lawyers failed to exonerate him from the evidences tendered in court linking him to commission of the terrorism charges.

AmarSim Associations Development Consultants

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