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Judgment reserved in terrorism charge against three Lebanese

22 October 2013, 10:42

Abuja - The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday reserved  judgment on possession of firearms and terrorism charges against three Lebanese.

The Judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who reserved the judgment, said the court needed time to consider the arguments in the written addresses to make a sound decision.

"In view of the volume of work before me and my disposition to bring out a sound judgment from the arguments in the addresses, ruling on this case is thereby reserved,’’ he said.

The Lebanese, Abdallah Thaini, Mustapha Fawaz and Talal Roda, were charged with criminal conspiracy and unlawful importation of prohibited firearms.

They were arrested in connection with a large cache of arms found at a residence in Kano.

The Counsel to the accused persons, Robert Clarke, who adopted his client written address, argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

He said Kano was the appropriate place because the offences were allegedly committed there.

"My Lord, it will amount to judicial rascality not to follow the laws in the determination of this suit.

"All the charges at this point cannot stand because they are Nigerians and must be protected by the constitution and our legal statues and not treated like foreigners,’’ he said.

"Let me bring it to the judicial notice of the court that the some of the charges were brought under general and miscellaneous law with limitations on jurisdiction.

"I wish to say for the umpteen times that the suit should be dismissed for lack of merit and diligent prosecution,’’ he said.

He contended that the court robbed itself of jurisdiction for not ordering the physical production of the arms for inspection.

"The presentation of photographs of the weapons and its admission as evidence was contrary to Section 86(4) of the Evidence Act.

"How can the court now determine whether the arms and ammunitions were real or fake as these photographs could have been down loaded from the internet.

"The credibility of the entire proceedings may have been brought to disrepute by this singular action; the court has not verified the evidence before it,’’ he said.

Adopting his address, Simon Egede, the prosecutor, urged the court to dismiss all the arguments canvassed by Clarke.

Egede submitted that the tendering of the exhibits using photographs and videos was done in accordance Sections 31(3) and 26(1) of the Evidence Act.

The prosecutor said the court was empowered by the Terrorism Protection Act to hear any terrorist suit from any location in the country.

On the status of Hezbollah, the prosecutor said that Section 40 of the Terrorism Protection Act 2011 defined the characteristics of a terror group, adding that Hezbollah fits into the description.

"This is one form prescribed by the Terrorism Protection Act with which one could ascertain the true colours of such groups.

"The Military wing of Hezbollah has been declared as terrorist organisation by some international convention that Nigeria is signatory to because they have bombed countries, killed people and hijacked planes,’’ he said.

Egede submitted that the accused persons confessed to have had military training in Lebanon as freedom fighters.

He, therefore, urged the court to be wary of the accused persons’ personality, saying "they are alleged to be agents of the Hezbollah terrorist group’’.

-  NAN 

Tags terrorism

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