- The director of Media Trust Limited, Alhaji Bello Damagum, has been charged with receiving funds from al-Qaeda to bankroll terror activities in Nigeria. Mr Damagum was accused of receiving US$ 300,000 from an al-Qaeda branch in Sudan, principally to fund the operations of Nigerian terrorists.
He was also accused of sponsoring Nigerians' stay in alleged terror camps in Mauritania. The Abuja court was told that Mr Damagum had deposited al-Qaeda funds in a UK bank.
State prosecutors said prior to his arrest and detention, the media chief had donated a minibus and a public address system to Islamists so that they spread extremism in Nigeria's north-eastern Borno State.
Mr Damagum denied all the charges brought against him at the Abuja High Court. But the court ordered that his international travel documents be seized so that he does escape jurisdiction.
Alhaji Damagum was arrested by the agents of the State Security Service (SSS) at his Yobe State residence on 24 December 2006. He spent 12 days in custody before finally being released on bail.
"Since I was arrested I was not taken to court, there were no charges against me and they questioned me only for about three hours," Mr Damagum said after his release, adding, "I was only asked about my bank account and company."
He said he was denied contact with his family and also refused access to his special foods. "I am an ulcer patient," Mr Damagum added.
His friend, Mallam Kasimu Abdullahi, said 15 SSS officers stormed the house of Mr Damagum while he was reciting the Quran. "They searched his house for close to an hour and later called me to witness what they were taking with them," he said.
"They went away with his personal diary, tabletop computer, laptop computer, some videocassettes and some of his documents."
Mr Damagum had previously been arrested in 2004 in connection with terrorism charges. He was arrested after what has been described as a "Taleban clash" in Yobe. On 21 June, Mr Damagum was arrested for offering scholarships to Nigerian students in Mauritania.
Mauritanian government officials have several times denied the existence of al-Qaeda groups or camps in their country. No terror acts have so far occurred in Mauritania.
The Damagum family had sued the federal government over "unlawful detention of Alhaji Damagum and unlawful search of his residence."
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