On Wednesday 6th of June 2013 the Nigerian Army and State Security Service disclosed that they had uncovered a cache of arms and ammunition at a ‘bunker’ in a master bedroom at No. 3 Gaya Road, Bompai in Kano, belonging to one Abdul Hassan Taher Fadlalla, a Lebanese who’s currently out of the country.
This was barely a week after an announcement of cache of arms was made at another destination in Kano.
The security agencies have revealed that some suspects arrested in connection with these arms are men of Lebanese origin and are infact linked with the Hezbollah ‘terrorist’ group.
I have always wondered why signs in Kano were written in both English and Arabic, and in some places, only in Arabic. I know Kano has majority muslim population but unlike many other majority muslim populated places in Nigeria you won’t find this peculiarity. I was then told that Kano harboured a large Arab and Lebanese population and it is mainly for them that the signs are made in Arabic.
Was it not on the 13th of May this year that an Iranian, Azim Aghajani was sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Lagos, for having the efrrontery to import arms in ‘THIRTEEN’ containers labelled as ‘building material’ into Nigeria?
Azim who is alleged to be a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and also on a United Nations, UN blacklist claims the weapons were intended for The Gambia, while the Iranian government said the shipment belonged to a private company and was being sent to a ‘West African country’, which it failed to identify.
The sad thing for me in all this was despite the gravity and enormity of the act of this Iranian, the Federal High Court judge Okechukwu Okeke gave the suspect what one could term a slap on the wrist with a ‘five year’ sentence which will be counted retroactively from when the trial began in February 2011.
This is coming on the heels of another trial similar to this is in Kenya, where another Iranian was convicted for importing arms illegally into Kenya and was slammed a ‘Life’ sentence.
Nigeria’s West African neighbours of Gambia and Senegal, recalled the Iranian ambassador to their countries just on the basis only of the fact that their countries were mentioned as ‘final destination’ of the weapons, yet Nigeria did nothing of such even though it was widely alleged that a second Iranian linked with this arms importation was whisked off through our international airports back to Iran under ‘diplomatic cover’.
Not even a representation was made to the UN to state Nigeria’s anger over the reprehensible act of the Iranians (either with Iranian government support or not) to undermine further the security of the Nigerian state at a time Nigeria was reeling in the throes of an Islamic insurgency in her Northern parts.
It is not a secret that Hezbollah is backed by the Iranian government and that they are involved in a proxy war on their behalf in Syria, however what may not be totally out in the open is Iran’s incursion into the African space to win the hearts and minds of Africans against their bitter enemies, the United States, Israel and maybe even Saudi Arabia (this is of a much religious nature).
Iran has been able to do this by infiltrating mainly the intelligentsia of muslim communities of their countries of interest just like Kano in Nigeria and Mombasa in Kenya, leading to the rise in Shiism (a brand of Islam practiced mostly in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain and amongst minorities in other Arab countries, though with large following in Lebanon) among the muslim populations of African countries.
Their activities beyond weapons caches been linked to them are of a more intra-governmental nature, often resulting in policies of government that antagonise western and Israeli interests in African countries and communities where they have gained a foothold.
It is in countries where they haven’t yet organized a base that you may glean some support for AFRICOM, a full-spectrum combatant command, responsible for all U.S.Department of Defence operations, exercises and security cooperation on the African continent, its island nations and surrounding waters, for instance.
This organ which began initial operations on October 1, 2007 and officially became an independent command on October 1, 2008 is currently located at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart-Moehringen, Germany because of opposition by many African countries for it to be sighted anywhere on the continent.
Many of these oppositions are based genuinely on ‘Sovereignty’ issues while a lot of it are influenced by nations outside the continent who see Americans ‘physical’ presence as a threat to their activities in Africa.
Nigerian political and security apparati does not seem to weigh the enormity of what is currently going on with Iran, or question the true intent of their activity in Nigeria, but rather continue to treat them with kid gloves, while regarding these epochal events as ordinary, unrelated and ‘flash in the pan’-like.
The Nigerian government must stop sleeping with both eyes closed when it comes to Iran. Action over words, is what is required now. The threat Iran poses is greater than even what Boko Haram and/or its splinter group is doing now, because they will pass, but ideas don’t and that’s the edge Iran is counting on.
If we ignore this, Nigeria like Syria will be the battle ground where Iranian ideology will be pitted against pro-western ideology, the end of that will definitely not bode well for Nigeria.
PS. You may also want to read this:
Iranian Agenda in Nigeria – Nigeria Village Square – http://nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/iranian-agenda-in-nigeria2.html