The two Nigerians, Olaniyi Lawal and Luqman Babatunde, pleaded not guilty Thursday at a federal court in the capital, Abuja.
Prosecutors accuse the two men of receiving more than $6,000 from the branch of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to recruit and transport prospective members. The Al-Qaeda branch and Islamist group, is active in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is split between a mainly Christian south and a predominantly Muslim north. It has been plagued by a series of deadly attacks in recent years blamed on another Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, an al-Qaeda affiliate.
Experts note that branches of the original al-Qaida, formed by Osama bin Laden, are often more active in their local communities where they cause death and destruction, than in the West.
But the Yemeni-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is under an international watch because of its continued attempts to bomb U.S. and other Western targets. VoA.