(photo credit: REUTERS)
DUBAI - Iran denied on Friday Nigerian allegations that it had
trained militants arrested in Nigeria on charges of planning attacks on US and
Israeli targets there.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian
said such allegations were "made up as the result of the ill will of the enemies
of the two countries' good relations", Iranian state television
"Iran and Nigeria have friendly and close relations and despite
the vast efforts of the two countries' enemies in recent years relations and
co-operations have always improved," he said.
Nigeria's secret service
said on Thursday it had arrested Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and two other
Nigerians in December after Berende made several suspicious trips to Iran, where
he interacted with Iranians in a "high-profile terrorist network".
said Berende and his Iranian handlers were involved in "grievous crimes" against
Nigeria's national security.
Berende, who will now be charged in court,
told reporters at the Nigerian secret service's headquarters on Wednesday that
he had carried out surveillance for the Iranians.
In 2004, Israeli
sources said an Iranian diplomat was arrested on suspicion of spying on the
Israeli embassy in Nigeria's capital Abuja. Tehran denied any arrest.
2010, authorities at a Lagos port found a hidden shipment of rockets, rifle
rounds and other weapons from Iran, supposedly bound for Gambia. A Nigerian and
an Iranian face criminal charges over the shipment.
Iran accuses Israeli
and Western agents of sabotaging its disputed nuclear programme and
assassinating several of its scientists. Tehran has resisted Western pressure to
curb its uranium enrichment activities, but is due to hold more talks on the
issue with major powers in Kazakhstan on Feb. 26.
Nigeria's 160 million
people are split roughly equally between a mostly Muslim north and a largely
Islamist groups in the north have become the biggest
threat to stability in Africa's top oil producer. Western governments are
increasingly concerned they are linking up with militants outside Nigeria,
including al Qaeda's north African wing.