The Federal High Court in Abuja will Wednesday, June 26 rule in a N3 billion suit filed by the three Lebanese men arrested in connection with an alleged importation of arms.
The men, owners of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park in Abuja – Mustapha Fawaz, Abdalah Tahini and Talal Rouda have been charged to court by the State Security Service (SSS) for their alleged role in the importation firearms and for being members of a Hezbolla terror cell.
However, the three men filed an Enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights suit, demanding N1billion each as damages, claiming that the firearms found in their premises were ordinary hunting rifles.
Named as respondents are the Director of State Security Service (SSS), Ekpenyong Ita, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN).
Justice Adeniyi Ademola fixed the date after hearing the submissions of the counsel to the three men, Robert Clarke (SAN) and Clifford Osagie.
In his submissions, Clarke prayed the court to order their immediate release from the SSS custody.
Clarke prayed the court to declare that the arrest and continued detention without trial by the SSS is “illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever”.
He also prayed the court for an interim order restraining the SSS, Inspector General of Police and Attorney General of the Federation from continued arrest, detention, harassment and intimidation of their families, relations and/or business interests.
In his submissions, Raji denied that his clients were members of the Hezbollah military wing as alleged by the SSS. He said that his clients did not import any weapons into the country.
He said: “What they have are mere hunting rifles. My clients denied that the weapons the SSS showed in exhibit `1’ were 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 also 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.
“It also violates Articles 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.’’
They also demanded for a public apology from the SSS, IG and AGF in three national newspapers for the alleged violation of their rights.
However, in a counter motion, 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 also said that the SSS arrested the men on May 11 and by May 13, 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.
Said Osagie: “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.
Speaking to newsmen after the court sitting, Clarke said: “We leant that the SSS is filing fresh charges soon against the suspects before the Federal High Court which has jurisdiction to hear the case.
“We have been informed that fresh charges had been filed against my clients. We were told that they will inform us on which of the judges will hear it,” he said.
A Karu Chief Magistrates’ Court in Abuja had on Thursday struck out a case of alleged terrorism and illegal importation of firearms filed against Fawaz, Tahini and Roda by the SSS.