AFRICANGLOBE – Security authorities in Nigeria yesterday said the large cache of weapons recovered in a specially-built bunker in Kano belonged to Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah and was to be deployed for attacks on Israeli and Western interests in Nigeria.
The weapons, recovered in a raid that started Monday night at the Bompai area, included anti-tank weapons, guns, bombs, grenades and ammunitions. They were found concealed inside an armoury underneath a living room in the house, said to be occupied by an Arab from Lebanon.
Conducting journalists round the building yesterday, Commander of the 3 Brigade Kano Brig-Gen. Ilyasu Abba and the Kano State Director of State Security Service (SSS) Mr. Bassey Etteng said the weapons were brought in by a Hezbollah cell for use to target Western and Israeli interests.
Hezbollah is a Shia military and political movement based in Lebanon considered by the United States to be a terrorist organisation.
The security chiefs said investigation had confirmed the existence of the group’s cell in Nigeria. Brig-Gen. Abba said the discovery was made after several months of investigation by the SSS in Abuja, which led to a number of arrests that started with an Abuja-based businessman on May 16.
The army also disclosed that the arrested suspects had confessed to have undergone Hezbollah training.
“The owner of this property is… a Lebanese national. Unfortunately, he is not even in Nigeria. There is somebody who is very prominent, he has property in Abuja… . He has been arrested by the SSS early this month,” he said.
“There is also somebody… also a Lebanese national, who was arrested at the (Malam Aminu Kano Airport) MAKIA on his way to (the Lebanese capital) Beirut.
He had the sum of $60,000 on him, which he did not declare. It was after he was arrested that the money was found on him during investigation,” Ilyasu added.
He listed the weapons recovered to include 103 packs Slap TNT dynamites, (with each pack containing 16 pieces) used in preparing explosives, 76 military hand grenades, one 60mm anti-tank weapon, two rounds of 122mm artillery gun ammunition, four anti-tank mines, 21 RPG bombs, 16 RPG charges, one RGP tube, nine pistols, one sub-machine gun, two SMG magazines, 17 AK-47 rifles, 44 AK-47 magazines and 11, 433 rounds of 7.62mm Special and NATO ammunitions.
“What you are seeing here is what I can say (are) weapons of mass destruction,” Brig-Gen. Ilyasu said. “In terms of our situation now in Nigeria, if these things have gone out only God knows the type of destruction they would have brought.”
He said even if the arsenal were to be targeted against Israeli or western interests in the country, the destruction will not just affect the said nations but Nigeria as well.
“These are some of the dangers that have been uncovered and they are something we should thank God for,” he said.
The security chiefs said the owner of the house had hidden his activities to even his neighbours by erecting the only mosque on the street outside his home to hoodwink people in to believing that he was a pious individual.
When asked if the alleged owners of the cache have anything to do with Boko Haram, Brig-Gen. Ilyasu said only investigation can reveal whether the two organisations are linked. “Investigation is on, if they are connected with Boko Haram it will be revealed,” he said.
While showing journalists the bunker were the weapons were recovered, the SSS director said the section containing the bunker has its windows and doors heavily reinforced, while the opening of the bunker was concealed beneath three layers of concrete. Etteng said security forces found ammunitions and other weapons neatly packed inside coolers and drums.
He described the place as the “armoury for the international terrorist network Hezbollah.”
“They wrapped the weapons in towels and placed them in the rubber drums to preserve them, while information available showed that they periodically bring them out and clean them,” he said.
He also showed journalists another section of the room, where the occupants had concealed a hideout behind a wardrobe, in order to escape possible arrest.
“I can tell you everything here is deadly and I can tell you if unleashed on human beings it can have the capacity of causing serious destruction,” Etteng said.
The security forces said the house was not going to be demolished immediately because of its “national implication”, which will require “policy makers and National Assembly defence committee members” to come and inspect it.
The house is in the same area as the headquarters of the state police command, the Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigerian Immigration Service.