A move has been initiated by the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to demolish Amigo Supermarket in Abuja following alleged discovery of boxes with arms in the complex.
The outfit is owned by some Lebanese who were recently linked with terrorism activities including providing cells for Hezbollah terror group in Kano.
An online organisation claimed that the SSS had requested the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan to demolish the supermarket. It added that the president had received the request by security agents but declined to grant it, more than a week after investigators sealed off the supermarket.
Last week, the media was awash with reports of the discovery of “boxes” containing arms during minor excavation works within Amigo.
According to Premium Times, SSS sources said that the president had refused to communicate his decision on the matter to the agency, more than three days after, as it was the case with reports sent by the department. The development, it was learnt, had raised fears that the president might veto the proposal and stall further action on the matter.
While the department recommended, in the report sent on Monday to the president, that the sprawling mall, estimated at over N5 billion be bulldozed and the area thoroughly searched for more arms, it suggested that the land on which Abuja’s biggest amusement park, Wonderland, also owned by the Lebanese, was built be revoked immediately by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
The property hosting the park is said to be owned by the FCTA and was only leased to the group for 10 years, sources said.
“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; his mobile telephone number was not available as at the time of this report, the online outfit said.
Officials well briefed about Amigo /Wonderland investigations say the SSS’ recommendation that the supermarket be pulled down was based on three reasons: the security agency believes the place was used for stockpiling weapons. Also, investigators said they have evidence that proceeds of sales from the multi-billion enterprise had been used in funding terrorism; and the SSS expressed concern that a new administration after Jonathan’s might 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 Amigo and Wonderland, both in the heart of the Nigerian capital. The Abuja property were sealed off on Friday night while the Nigerian military had revealed the discovered weapons in a Kano property on Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, counsel to the arrested suspects, Bamidele Aturu, has questioned the rationale behind the move to demolish the Amigo structure.
Aturu 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,” he told Premium Times on phone.
Mr Aturu said he had 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.