The military Joint Task Force (JTF) has arrested a Lebanese co-owner of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park in Abuja, Fauzi Fawaz, following his alleged implication in ownership of a large cache of weapons of different types and calibre.
A report also indicated that a Lebanese owner of Tahir Palace Hotel in Kano, Tahir Fadallah, had also been arrested over his alleged involvement in the import of weapons.
But as at press time, there was a conflicting report on whether or not Fadallah had been arrested.
According to a military source, one of the suspects had been linked to a serving governor in one of the north–west states.
The weapons were uncovered at an underground bunker at No. 3 Gaya Road, off Bompai Road in Kano, after a combined team of the JTF involving soldiers from 3 Brigade in Kano and Kano DSS conducted a thorough search of the bunker.
Another Lebanese, Talal Roda, with a Nigerian passport, was said to have been arrested at the underground bunker by the military operatives.
The weapons recovered include anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled guns, anti-tank/anti-personnel mines and other dangerous weapons. All the arms and ammunition recovered were properly concealed with several layers of concrete and placed in coolers, drums and bags neatly wrapped.
The discovery of the weapons also confirms the existence of Hezbollah terrorist cells in Nigeria.
The owner of Amigo Supermarket was arrested on May 16, 2013, and he was said to have implicated the owner of Tahir Palace Hotel.
Kano State director of the State Security Service, Mr Bassey Etang, also revealed that the owner of the weapons discovered has Hezbollah links.
All those arrested have confessed to have undergone Hezbullah terrorism training and further implicated one Fauzi Fawaz, also a co-owner of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park.
The arms and ammunition were targeted at facilities of Israeli and Western interest in Nigeria. However, the security agencies are making frantic efforts to unveil the true situation.
We gathered that the house where the weapons were uncovered was less than 500 meters away from the Kano State police headquarters, Bompai, and Immigration and Customs headquarters.
While conducting journalists round the house, the state SSS director, Bassey Etang, described the discovery as a huge success. He said the owner of the house, who is still at large, could be a dangerous terrorist with the ill-intention to attack Nigeria’s interest in disguise of attacking Israeli or foreign interests.
We witnessed the deceitful way the man at large stockpiled the weaponry inside a hole about 12 feet deep in his master bedroom. It was observed that some cupboards attached to the wall in some parts of the house contained a stock of guns and armoury.
We saw ammunition, dynamites used to make explosives and containers used in stocking the ammunition. AK 47 rifles were in large quantity and there were weapons that were not usually seen in the hands of even insurgents or armed robbers.
Meanwhile, the brigade commander, 3rd Brigade, Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen IIyasu Abba, has described the cache of weapons as equal to weapons of mass destructions, considering their quantities and nature.
The 3rd Brigade commander added that the investigation that led to the discovery started in Abuja by the SSS and it was as a result of an arrest of a suspect.
Abba said among the weapons discovered during the operation on Tuesday were 17 AK 47 rifles, 44 magazines, four land mines and 12 RPG bombs, 14 RPG charger, 11 66 mm anti-tanks weapons, one SMG magazine, one pistol and magazine.
Also, 11, 433 rounds of 7.26 mm special, 76 hand grenade, rocket-propelled guns, 122-calibre artillery and anti-mines weapons were recovered.
“What you are seeing here are weapons of mass destruction in terms of our situation here right now in Nigeria. If these things had been brought out, only God knows the type of destruction they would cause to innocent persons in the state or in the country,’’ he said.
He said the Department of State Security Service (SSS) in Abuja had been investigating the case for a long time.
State director of the SSS Mr Ettang said that the three suspects had a link to the Hezbollah group in Lebanon.
According to him, the suspects have for a long time been using the bunker in the house to stockpile arms and ammunition.
He restated the commitment of the SSS and other security agencies to continue with the ongoing war on criminals nationwide.
How Abdullahi Tahini was arrested at Kano airport
On hearing the news of arms discovery, Abdullahi Tahini, a close accomplice of Tahir Fadallah, made a call to one Ibrahim Musty, who is a manager of one of Fadallah’s cafe and ice cream joint.
Tahini also promised Musty $20, 000 if he could arrange his safe trip out of the country through the afternoon Egypt Air scheduled for Cairo.
Musty agreed and promised to ensure Tahini’s safe trip out of the country but, unknown to Tahini, Musty himself had been under surveillance and had been in contact with the men of the JTF in the state.
Tahini refused to tell Musty his whereabouts until he had assured him of his tickets and travel details. He then asked Musty to meet him at the BQ of a travel agency along Airport Road in Kano.
Musty met him there and drove Tahini straight to the JTF men who were waiting at the airport.
A reliable source told LEADERSHIP that the Ukrainian cargo plane full of arms that was impounded in Kano in 2009 had a strong link with Tahir Fadallah.
The Lebanese kingpin used his connection to wriggle out of the mess then but has been on the watchful eye of the security service ever since.
Security operatives attached to the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) had on the early morning of July 17, 2009, impounded a Ukrainian cargo plane loaded with a range of sophisticated weapons.
The cargo plane with registration number UR-CAK and a crew of four made a technical landing in Kano at about 2am on that day.
Security sources at the airport said that the circumstances of the landing made curious security operatives on duty to undertake a full search of the cargo plane and its contents.
It was further gathered that, in the course of the search, the security operatives discovered and assorted sophisticated arms and ammunition in several quantities.
Consequently, all four crew members were arrested and taken out of public glare, ostensibly for questioning. A Nigerian, Ibrahim Musty (he was not manager then), the same manager of Fadallah’s ice cream shop, claimed to be a clearing agent was seen making frantic moves to secure the release of the cargo plane. He was also taken into custody then.