The Department of State Security Service (DSS) and the Nigerian Army have linked the weapons found at the home of a Lebanese in Kano to an international terrorist’s organisation, Hezbollah.
They also said they had uncovered a cell of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist group, operating in Nigeria and had arrested some of its members.
They said the Lebanese, Abdul Hassan Taher Fadlalla, who is currently out of the country, hid the weapons in an underground bunker in the master bedroom of his No 3, Gaya Road off Bompai Road, Kano. The weapons were discovered on Tuesday night following a tip-off.
The state SSS Director, Mr. Bassey Etang, and the Brigade Commander of the 3 Brigade of Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Ilyasu Abbah, who displayed the weapons to reporters Thursday, told them that the bunker was specially constructed for this purpose.
Abba said: “These are weapons of mass destruction and were brought into Nigeria for use against Israel and western interests in the country. Investigation also confirms the existence of a Hezbollah foreign terrorist cell in Nigeria.
“Consequently, the Department of State Security (DSS) on May 16, 2013 arrested one Mustapha Fawaz, the co-owner of the popular Amigo Supermarket, as well as the Wonderland Amusement Park, all in Abuja.
“Thus, his arrest and confession unveiled other members of the foreign terrorists network, which led to the interception of one member of the syndicate named Abdullah Tahini, a Lebanese national, at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport with an undeclared amount of $60,000 on him en route Beirut.
“Thereafter, on May 26, 2013, one Talal Roda, also a Lebanese but with a Nigerian passport, was arrested in this same house.
“It is worth mentioning that the weapons include anti-tank weapons, rocket propelled guns and anti-tank/anti-personnel mines, among other dangerous weapons.
“All the weapons and ammunition recovered were properly concealed with several layers of concrete and placed in coolers, drums and bags neatly wrapped.”
The security chiefs added that the discovery of the weapons was not accidental but the outcome of a robust counter-terrorism investigation by the SSS.
They added that those arrested had confessed to have undergone Hezbollah terrorist training and further implicated one Fauzi Fawad, also a co-owner of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park.
“It’s an issue of national interest and the house will not be demolished because we want people to come and see the situation by themselves,” the security chiefs said.
They explained that the chief suspect, who is now at large, brought the weapons to Nigeria to attack Israeli and Western targets in Nigeria, adding that the security agencies were making frantic efforts to unravel the plot so that the suspects could be prosecuted.
Among the weapons discovered and displayed to reporters were 11,433 rounds of 7.6 mm ammunition; 76 military grenade, one SMG rifle, nine pistols, 17 AK-47 rifles, 44 magazines, 103 packs of slap TNT and 50 MM anti-tank grenades, 123 MM artillery guns, four anti-tank landmines, 21 rocket propelled grenades (RPG), 16 RPG chargers, and one RPG tube.
Meanwhile, more foreign members of the terrorist group Boko Haram have deserted their camps in the northern part of the country in what looks like a rebuff to the recent call by the leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau, for help from external elements to battle Nigerian troops.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said yesterday that the foriegn insurgents, mostly from Niger and Chad, had fled from their former strongholds in Borno State following the sustained onslaught from the Special Forces of the Joint Task Force (JTF).
Olukolade disclosed that five Nigeriens and two Chadians were among the fleeing insurgents apprehended by the Special Forces, as troops continued their pursuit of terrorists dislodged from their bases.
He said another seven were among the nine arrested at Tumbu Gini, a border town with Chad as they tried to cross the border into the neighbouring country.
He however noted that the man suspected to be leading the group escaped with gunshot wounds.
Olukolade also warned that the Defence Headquarters had observed that attempts were being made by insurgents and their collaborators to push into the public domain, questionable and manipulated messages meant to misinform the public.
“The message which called for support from Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as other cohorts of the insurgents was clearly a confirmation of the level of pressure which has been brought to bear on the insurgents,” he said.
“There is indeed no cause for alarm as the insurgents are actually in flight, necessitating their call for help from their foreign allies,” he added.
Olukolade assured Nigerians that the operation to put an end to the activities of the insurgents was continuing, in line with overall plans for the nation’s security.
Also, in a bid to appraise the emergency rule imposed on the three North-eastern states, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday met in private with service chiefs in Abuja.
It was the first meeting the president has held with his security chiefs since the state of emergency was declared in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States two weeks ago.
Although they refused to speak to the media at the end of the four-hour long meeting, those in attendance included the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS), Mr. Ita Ekpeyong, and the Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Abuabakar, among other service chiefs from the armed forces.
Sources told THISDAY that the meeting was convened to brief the president on the military campaign in the North-east, and reassess the situation to determine how soon the state of emergency could be lifted.
Last week, the president had informed the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, at a parley during the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that the forces in the three states would not last up to six months.