Facts have emerged in Abuja on how Justice Ademola Adeniyi, a prominent judge on the bench of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, recently arrested alongside other judges by the Department of State Security Services (DSS), landed into trouble.
A competent source from the security circles told Daily Sun that his travails were triggered by an alleged N350m bribe money he collected in the illegal arms case brought by the Federal Government against three Lebanese, including co-owner of Amingo Supermarket, Mustapha Fawaz, and owner of the popular wonderland recreation centre.
In a 16-count charge, government had specifically alleged that Fawaz who is equally the owner of Wonderland Amusement Park Resort in Abuja, and his compatriots were members of the military wing of a Lebanon-based terrorist organization, Hezbollah.
Government had further alleged that Thahini, who it said had attempted to escape from the country via a Middle Eastern airline, was deeply involved in terror financing in the country.
The source who spoke on condition of anonymity, said operatives of the DSS had knowledge of the alleged bribe money and reported same to the former Director of the DSS, Ita Ekpenyong, but he allegedly did not act on it.
“His matter is connected to case filed against three Lebanese by the Federal government over some arms discovered in Kano. Our men got reports that he collected N350m as bribe and reported him to the former D.G, Ita Ekpenyong who did not act on it.
“When the present DG stumbled on the said report, he decided to dust it up and act accordingly leading to his arrest. There are other reports against him before the service.”
Our source disclosed that two weeks before the operation was carried out, the service decided to withdraw all its operatives attached to him. Justice Ademola was one of the justices that enjoyed the protection of the DSS in view of the fact that he was handling some sensitive cases including terrorism related cases.
The DSS has disclosed that the sum of N54m cash, $171,779, 4,400 Euros, 1,010 Rupees, and 80 pounds was found in his residence, during his arrest.
During the hearing of the case, Government counsel, Mr. Simon Egede called 10 witnesses and maintained that the accused persons were in charge of the operations of Hezbollah in Nigeria, tendering a total of 25 exhibits in the course of the trial.
Among the exhibits admitted against them by the court included guns, cartridge belt holders with ammunition, pellets for Air Rifles, 150 cartridges, 158rounds of cartridges, two bound copies of still pictures of arms and ammunition that were allegedly discovered in one of their premises at No 3 Gaya Road, off Bompai Road in Kano, two video CDs and witness statements.
Other arms allegedly uncovered at the underground bunker owned by the suspects were anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled guns and anti-tank/anti-personnel mines.
According to the security operatives that conducted the search, the arms and ammunition were properly concealed with several layers of concrete and placed in coolers, drums and bags neatly wrapped. The 3rd accused who was convicted yesterday, Roda, was not only apprehended inside the bunker were the arms were recovered, but also confessed that he was commissioned by another Lebanese who is an in-law to Fawaz, Abdalhassan Tahir, currently at large, to be servicing the guns.
In his judgment, Justice Ademola Adeniyi dismissed the 16-count criminal charge that was filed against the Lebanese co-owner of Amigo Supermarket, Mustapha Fawaz, by the Federal Government.
However, the court yesterday found the 3rd accused person, Tahal Roda, guilty on two counts of criminal conspiracy contrary to section 1(14) (a) (i) of Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17, LFN, 2004, and sentenced him to life imprisonment on each of the counts, stressing that his sentence should run concurrently.
Equally discharged by the court yesterday was another Lebanese, Abdullahi Thahini, who was arrested at the MallamAminu Kano International Airport on May 11, 2013, and the sum of $61, 170, recovered from him.
In his judgment yesterday, trial Justice Adeniyi, upheld their argument, maintaining that the prosecution, failed to prove the terrorism allegation against them beyond every reasonable doubt.
Justice Adeniyi held that there was no evidence before him to prove that Nigeria has proscribed Hezbollah as an international terrorist organization.