Hezbollah: Court reserves judgment on Lebanese suspects
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has reserved judgment in the suit filed by the three Lebanese being held over their alleged involvement in terrorism activities in the country.
Although the presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola did not attach a specific date for the judgment, he gave his assurance that it would not exceed Friday next week.
Meanwhile, moves are ongoing to release on bail one of the suspects, Kossay Noudin, on or before Wednesday.
Clarke and Osagie told the court during yesterday’s hearing that parties were “talking” with a view to arriving at an amicable resolution of the case involving him. It was learnt that the state was reluctant in prosecuting Noudin because there was insufficient evidence against him.
Abdullahi Thaini, Mustapha Fawaz and Tahal Roda are being held by the State Security Service (SSS) over the recent discovery of a cache of firearms and ammunition in a house in Kano.
They had filed a fundamental rights enforcement application challenging their arrest and continued detention. In the suit, with the SSS, Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as defendants, the suspects also faulted the closure of their business premises by security agents.
They are equally demanding a public apology from the defendants to be published in three national dailies and N50 billion compensation.
When the matter came up yesterday, counsel to the suspects, Robert Clarke (SAN) replied on point of law to the argument by state’s attorney, Clifford Osagie, to the effect that the SSS observed due process in the suspects’ arrest and continued detention. Specifically, Clarke faulted Osagie’s argument on the ground that the warrants for detention, on which basis his clients were being detained, were obtained from incompetent courts.
He argued that the magistrate’s courts, from which the warrants were obtained, had no jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism, for which his clients were arrested.
The lawyer further argued that by taking his clients before magistrate’s courts, both in Kano and Abuja, they were held on holding charges, which were illegal in the country. In addition, he urged the court to discountenance the defendants’ argument that the applicants’ alleged offences bordered on national security.
He further prayed the court to declare his clients’ detention as illegal and award substantial damages against the defendants. Last Friday, Osagie had denied the applicants’ claim that their arrest and detention by the state violated their fundamental right to liberty.
He argued that the SSS observed due process and procured the necessary warrants from the court, both in Kano and Abuja before detaining them. He noted that although the detention warrant issued by a Magistrate’s Court in Karu, Abuja lapsed on June 19 the suspects were still being held on the order of remand earlier made by the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Osagie also accused the three of belonging to the military wing of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group and the AGF has filed against them, a six-count charge bordering on terrorism.