Three Lebanese arrested in connection with the discovery of a cache of arms and ammunition in Kano state, north central Nigeria and charged with illegal importation of firearms and explosives were Friday denied bail by a Federal High Court siting in Abuja.
The suspects, Mustapha Fawaz (49 years), Abdullahi Thahini (48) and Tahal Roda (51) were arraigned alongside their companies; Amigo Supermarket Limited and Wonderland Amusement Park Resort, before Justice Adeniyi Ademola.
In the ruling on the suspects’ bail application, Justice Ademola held that the offence for which they were standing trial are grave and that since they all have dual citizenship, there is likelihood that they may not be available to face their trial. The court instead granted an order for accelerated hearing in the matter.
It also refused the application made by the suspects for the unsealing of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park, all owned by one of the suspects, Mr. Fawaz. Consequently, their trial was fixed for 29th, 30th and 31st July and ordered that the suspected terrorists remain in the custody of the State Security Service, SSS.
Justice Ademola however ordered that their lawyers, family members and their doctors be allowed access to them. The judge noted that although the suspects have pleaded not guilty to the six count terrorism charge, the prosecution has filed its proof of evidence, such as pictures of firearms and ammunition recovered from the suspects and that after perusing the proof of evidence, that he found that the prosecution has made a prima facie case against the suspected terrorists.
On the medical report presented to the court by the suspects’ lawyers in pursuit of their bail, the court dismissed the medical certificate on the ground that it did not conform to the standard. “I have examined the medical report and it failed to conform to the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Abacha against the State. There is no medical reports with special circumstances that will warrant the court to rely on in it in order to grant the accused persons bail” the judge maintained.
The judge further held that since the charges all bordered on national security, that the court is reluctant to grant the suspects bail. “Having perused the proof of evidence as regards exhibits 8(1) to 8 (4), which is a large quantity of negative weapons, the accused may jump bail.
Moreover, once the security of the state is in jeopardy, it is difficult for the court to grant bail. The court therefore refused the suspects bail”. Ruling on the unsealing of the Amigo supermarket and wonderland amusement park, justice Ademola held that based on the prosecutions counter affidavit that investigations are still ongoing on the said premises, it is not possible for the two properties to be opened. “The law allows the state to takeover premises of any body for the purposes of investigation.
Accordingly, the application to unseal the two premises is hereby dismissed” the court stated. The Lebanese were charged for being members of Hezbollah military wing and knowingly agreed to receive training in preparation to engage in the commission of a terrorist act.