Exclusive: SSS seeks Jonathan’s approval to demolish Abuja’s Amigo Supermarket

The detained Lebanese’ lawyer seeks respect for the constitution.

President Goodluck Jonathan is in receipt of a forceful request by state security agents recommending the immediate demolishing of one of Abuja’s most popular supermarket, Amigos, but has surprisingly withheld an approval more than a week after investigators sealed the supermarket for its Lebanese owners alleged terrorism link.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how officials excavated ‘boxes’ from minor excavation works within Amigo. A security official involved in the activities however said no major weapons were recovered from the boxes, contrary to rumours, with only a pistol found in one of them.

Sources at the Department of State Security Service, SSS, told PREMIUM TIMES that the president has refused to communicate his decision on the matter to the Service, more than 72 hours, as is usual with reports sent by the department; stalling further work on the case, and raising concerns he may veto the proposal.

While the department recommends, in the report sent on Monday, that the sprawling mall, estimated at more than N5 billion be bulldozed and the area thoroughly frisked for concealed arms, it suggests Abuja’s biggest amusement park, Wonderland, also owned by the Lebanese, be immediately revoked by the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA.

The property hosting the park is said to be owned by the Abuja administration and was only leased to the group for 10 years, our sources say.

With days passing and without a firm response from the president to what the SSS believes is need of urgent attention, investigators fear the proposal may be turned down by the president.

“We have sent in our report, but we can’t proceed without an approval by the president on such a matter of National Security,” a senior official of the SSS involved in the investigations said.

SSS spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, did not respond to phone calls seeking to get the agency’s official reaction and next line of action.

The president’s office did not also respond to request for response to this story. Emailed request for comments to presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, on why the president has not decided, was unanswered; while his mobile telephone number was not available as at the time of this report.

Reasons for seeking demolition

Officials well briefed about Amigos / Wonderland investigations say the SSS’ recommendation that the supermarket be pulled down is based on three reasons: first, the security agency believes the place was used for stockpiling weapons.

Also, investigators they have evidence that proceeds of sales from the multi-billion enterprise have been used in funding terrorism; and lastly, the SSS is concerned a new administration after Jonathan’s may reallocate the property to the Lebanese group.

The last scenario is reflected upon the well-known case of the Indian business group, Vaswani brothers, who were deported by the Obasanjo administration for money laundering but were ushered back into the country at the advent of a successor administration of Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007.

The Jonathan administration has already faced criticisms for its response to what investigators say is a clear terrorism case, after the authorities took more than 24 hours since the discovery of weapons in Kano last week, before shutting down property linked to the suspects, including Amigos and Wonderland, both in the heart of the Nigerian capital. The Abuja property were sealed on Friday night while the Nigerian military had revealed the discovered weapons in a Kano property on Thursday evening.

The raids

In a raid that followed months of investigations, the military’s Joint Task Force and the SSS, last week Thursday, announced the discovery of huge amount of weapons, including rocket launchers and grenades, concealed in a bunker in the home of one of the co-owners of the two businesses after months of investigation.

According to the Joint Task Force, weapons found include 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.

Fauzi Fawaz, one of the owners of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park, was named as part of a Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist cell in Nigeria, who kept the weapons.

The JTF said Mr. Fawaz’ name was mentioned by “all those arrested,” for being in possession of the heavy weapons, and other terrorism related activities. Mr. Fawaz is now on the run.

According to the task force, three other Lebanese suspected of owning the weapons were arrested- one suspect arrested at a house on Gaya Road in Bompai area of Kano, while another in Abuja, and a third suspect apprehended since May 16, at Aminu Kano International Airport, on his way to Beirut, Lebanon.

After the arrest and Kano raid, SSS officials told to PREMIUM TIMES of “boxes” unearthed at the supermarket in Abuja, raising concerns of a broad terrorist network that had operated for years exposing millions of customers to danger.

Counsel seeks due process

A lawyer for the arrested suspects, Bamidele Aturu, however, questioned any rationale behind seeking for a demolition of the Amigo building.

Mr. Aturu had threatened legal action against the federal government if those arrested were not charged to court on Wednesday as required by law.

“What law allows the demolition? Nobody supports terrorism, but what we are asking is that they follow the laws of the land,” the lawyer told PREMIUM TIMES on phone.

Mr. Aturu said he has not been allowed to speak to his detained clients (the three Lebanese arrested) including a co-owner of the two Abuja companies, Mustapha Fawaz, since their incarceration. He said the SSS was yet to respond to his letter and they barred him from entering their Abuja headquarters when he went there to see his clients.

“They (the SSS) said they would contact me, but I’ve not heard anything from them,” the lawyer said.

Mr. Aturu said he wants the government to strongly fight terrorism, but not violate people’s right and the constitution in doing so.


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  • Jr IBE

    Once again Jonathan had renewed his idiotic license!

    Hope there will be a coup in Nigeria for 5months.

    • we nogo die

      Lets not have a coup. Let him finish his tenure and go. Thats if hezbollah/boko have not finished us yet

  • we nogo die

    To Mr. Turu, tha law that says boko harams buildings including rented ones to be demolished must apply to this case.
    But I am sure the govt. wont approve the demolition. Was Ahmedinajad not here? He must have spoken with the presido by now to allow hezbollah to operate here unhindered. I know Ahmedinajad. He is an ally of Hezbollah and a friend of the govt.

  • we nogo die

    The law that demolishes boko haram buildings including rented buildings must apply here without exception. Have you ever queried that law. Is hezbollah not worst than boko?
    In any case, I cant see the president giving that approval. Was Ahmedinajad not here as a red carpet guest? He must have called the presido by now to ask for an unhindered hezbollah operation here in exchange of electricity via nuclear reactor. I know Ahmedinajad. He is an ally of hezbollah and friend to jona.

  • South delta nation

    But wetn dey worry his Jonathan sef? Even a little boy knows demolishing the amigo structure is the way to go. This man disappoints us daily. *smh*

    • Concerned Nigerian

      The most shameful statement to make. I seriously think that most people just want to criticize GEJ for the sake of it even when there is no merit to it. Where in the world does any government destroy a property that belongs to any criminal? The process is confiscate, conclude investigation and auction or turn over to state if the offender is convicted. Please try and make informed contribution for the sake of the country and not bash anything GEJ.

  • Dankas

    Is true south delta nation..! but be inforned that a day will come when you people regret what you are doing. Go ahead, GEJ will surely leave power one day whether you like it or not and I a believe that your way of destroying the north open a new chapter in this so called Nigeria. Is now do-me-I-do-you, is a really dangerous trent, when he leaves, you will understand what I am saying. GEJ exposes you a lot if you don’t know. you have became an endangered specy in this country today. As long as we stay together you will surely test the agony and anguish the north is facing under GEJ admin. Go ahead demolish all what you can in the north, is calculated attempt to destroy northern economy under the pretext of Boko Haram, you think we dont know that? You are playing fire and very soon you will come to know that.

    • 5050

      What are are the south delta nation doing and what are they going to regret? It is true that GEJ will one day leave power, but is the oil that the northerners so greedily crave also going to leave delta nation? It will never be be business as usual in Nigeria, if the northerners provoke the south delta nation, they will lock up their oil and everybody will starve. They have learnt to fight fire with fire, and bullet with bullet, so nobody will ever kick them around anymore. Mind you, I’m not even from that region.

    • smarty

      i don’t think you are in ur right senses with what u said. Sorry to ask, where are u from and do u have any brains in ur head? who is destroy the Northern economy? why is there no bomb blasts and boko haram down south? why is there no bomb blast in the Mosques? what are those ammunitions doing in a foreigners house in Kano? Why do we politicise,ethnicise and tribelise everything in Nigeria destroying ourselves and hiding the truth? Does the Boko Haram sect speak Igbo,Yoruba,ijaw,efik or Hausa and Arab? Its because u haven’t lost anyone in the bomb blast and sporadic shootings thats why u are talking rubbish and senselessly.

      • dakum

        english

    • Olusegun Adekoya

      Are you being reasonable at all? So GEJ destroyed the north? What a great misrepresentation. GEJ has done more for the north than all northern presidents. I don’t understand y any rational thinking northerner would side with their elites against GEJ following decades of them destroying the region…

    • xto

      Dankas,
      Please, be reasonable in your speech. How could you think this way? I can believe there are people that still talk like you in this Country. It pays to think and talk well.

      • xto

        Dankas,
        Please, be reasonable in your speech. How could you think this way? I can’t believe there are people that still talk like you in this Country. It pays to think and talk well.

        Regards

    • Richard

      You can’t even write good English, so I know you don’t have a good comprehension of what was written.

  • Michael Okon

    I think we should be very careful with not just the Lebanese but all the Middle East Nationals doing business in Nigeria. They should be barned.

    • Undisputed truth

      A very stupid comment. Maybe they will ban you as well!

  • lanre

    I think my disappointment goes to Mr bamidele aturu, I am disappointed that such an activist will take up a case to defend terrorist, sooo sad.

    • Dan maikoko

      Respect the law and see to it that the govt does not breach the rights of individuals because it wants to protect them from danger. “Those who are willing to trade liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security”. Since 911 governments around the world have done terrible things to their citizens to push their agenda, that it will be foolish to accept anything the govt of today say about anybody on face value. One of the ways to understand this is the fact that governments around the world never allow a public trial for terrorists suspects, never. The reason is simply that the public will come to know the truth if such a trial is public and a massive revolt may ensue. So don’t be disappointed with Aturu, help him and let us know the truth. If the Boko haram leader was taken to court and tried publically we would have known the truth then and maybe we would have averted the current crisis.

  • Edo

    Maybe “madam on the top” is interested in operating the supermarket; so “oga on the top” is still figuring out how to make it possible.

  • Ajantala

    It doesn’t make economic sense to destroy the property. The SSS should scrub to property for more weapons and the property confiscated and auctioned to the public. Money accrued should be used to compensate victims of Boko Haram and other terrorism.

  • nija pikin

    Destroy Amigo and wonderland you destroy your money bcos most of this business use loan from nigerian banks to establish so even though the banks are mostly owned by corrupt government official we are indirectly destroying our selfs why don’t we wait for a competent court of law to declare them guilty or otherwise b4 we crusify them.

    • Richard

      “Destroy Amigo and wonderland you destroy your money bcos most of this
      business use loan from nigerian banks to establish so even though the
      banks are mostly owned by corrupt government official we are indirectly
      destroying our selfs” Have you heard of the word, Punctuation? Anyway, what’s the bases for the quoted comment? Do you allow elements of terrorism because the country’s banks are benefiting from dealings with suspected terrorists? You can destroy the location where arms were found, while the owners are in court and you will not have breached any law whatsoever.