ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria’s Supreme Court on Friday quashed the conviction of a Lebanese national who had been sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to import weapons, purportedly on behalf of Hezbollah.
The five justices of the country’s top court unanimously ruled that prosecutors made a crucial technical error and should have tried Talal Ahmad Roda in the northern city of Kano, where he was arrested, rather than the capital Abuja.
“The conviction and sentence of the appellant, consequentially, are hereby quashed,” Justice Musa Muhammad said.
Roda was arrested with two other Lebanese nationals last year and charged with terrorism related offenses after a large cache of weapons was discovered at his home in Kano, the largest city in the mainly Muslim north.
Prosecutors said the trio were members of Hezbollah and had been plotting attacks against Western and Israeli targets inside Nigeria.
They were acquitted on the terrorism charges, but the High Court in Abuja found Roda guilty of the weapons offense.
It was not immediately clear if Roda was released from custody after the Supreme Court set aside his conviction.
At the time, the arrests raised eyebrows as Hezbollah was not known to have a presence in Nigeria and many questioned why the powerful Shiite Muslim group would be interested in importing a large stock of weapons into the country.
Senior intelligence officials said they would conduct a probe into possible links between Hezbollah and Boko Haram, but experts voiced strong doubts that any such ties existed.
Nigeria is home to a large Lebanese community, especially in the north.