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Arms: 3 Lebanese pray court for release

21 June 2013, 16:03

Abuja - The three Lebanese men arrested in connection with the alleged importation of arms on Friday prayed a Federal High Court, Abuja, for immediate order of release from the SSS custody.

The SSS is accusing the owners of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park, Mustapha Fawaz, Abdalah Tahini and Talal Rouda of alleged importation of firearms and being members of the Hezbolla terror cell.

In their application for the enforcement of their fundamental rights, the men asked the court to declare that their arrest and continued detention without trial by the SSS is "illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever”.

Named as respondents are the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN).

The men, through their counsel, Adbullahi Raji (SAN), also prayed the court for an Interim Order restraining the SSS, IG and AGF from continued arrest, detention, harassment and intimidation of their families, relations and/or business interests.

Raji, in his submissions, denied that his clients were members of the Hezbollah Military Wing, as they were being accused of by the SSS.

He said that his clients did not import any weapons into the country.

"What they have are mere hunting rifles. My clients denied that the weapons that the SSS showed in exhibit 1, was found in their house in Kano.

"To put the records straight, none of my clients live on Tukur Road of Nasarawa area of Kano. They all live in Abuja,'' he said.

He urged the court to hold that the SSS had no legal instrument before they arrested and detained his clients since May 11.

Raji, prayed the court to declare that the action of the SSS "was arbitrary and a wanton violation of the rights of his clients as guaranteed under Sections 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution, Articles 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

He, therefore, sought for an order directing the respondents and their agents and servants to unseal the Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park forthwith.

The counsel also demanded for a public apology from the SSS, IG and AGF in three national newspapers for the alleged violation of their rights.

He urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the SSS and order the payment of N50 billion as compensation.

In a counter motion, counsel to the SSS, Cliff Osagie, urged the court to dismiss the application of the three men.

Osagie urged the court to hold that the SSS reserved the power to arrest, investigate and prosecute offenders in accordance with the law.

He told the court that the SSS complied with two orders for committal from competent courts in Kano and Abuja.

He said that the SSS arrested the men on May 11 and by May 13, they were issued with a search warrant by the Chief Magistrates' Court in Kano.

Osagie also said that the warrant of arrest the court gave the SSS was valid till June 3, after which the service got another warrant from the Karu Magistrates' Court, Abuja.

He also argued that the SSS had not breached the applicants’ fundamental rights.

"We found a cache of prohibited arms in their house in Kano. And not mere hunting rifles as they averred in their submission.

"They have not exhibited any licence issued to them to be in possession of these weapons,'' he said.

Osagie prayed the court to hold that the application by the Fawaz, Tahini and Roda was "frivolous and intended to pervert cause of justice''.

After listening to their submissions, Justice Adeniyi Ademola adjourned the case to Monday, June 24, for reply on points of law by the two counsel.

The News agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a Chief  Magistrates’ Court on Thursday in Karu struck out a case of  alleged terrorism and illegal importation of firearms filed against Fawaz, Tahini and Roda by the SSS.

The Magistrate, Muyiwa Oyeyibo in his ruling, held that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit and that it was outside the court’s scope.

 - NAN


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