Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by the Federal Government seeking to extradite the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, to the United States of America.
Delivering the judgment on Monday, Justice Ekwo held that the extradition request filed by the Attorney General of the Federation lacked merit and was liable to dismissal.
This is just as the Federal Government said it would study the judgment and take a decision at the appropriate time.
The Federal Government filed extradition charges against Kyari to pave the way for his extradition to the US to answer fraud allegations.
Justice Ekwo, however, held that the government had no basis to file the extradition request, having put Kyari on trial in Nigeria in relation to the allegations against him in the US.
The judge held that the Federal Government’s request for extradition was “strange, incompetent and bereft of merit.”
“Malami, being the Chief Law Officer of the country, ought to be aware that the Extradition Act forbids the surrendering of a defendant that is already facing trial before a competent court in the country,” the judge said.
The court wondered why the AGF approached the court with the extradition application when he was the one that issued fiat to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency to prosecute Kyari on drug-related charges.
“The AGF could not say that he was not aware of the pending proceedings against the defendant which was entered against him by the NDLEA,” Ekwo said.
According to him, the law was clear that Kyari, having been put on trial before a court of competent jurisdiction in the country, “shall not be surrendered until such a case has been discharged either by his conviction or acquittal.”
Consequently, the court held that the extradition request was incompetent and deserved to be dismissed.
Kyari is wanted in the US for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft.
A grand jury had on April 29, 2021, filed an indictment against him with the approval of the US District Court for the Central District of California, after which a warrant was issued for his arrest.
When asked for the Federal Government’s next line of action on the matter, the Attorney-General’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Gwandu, said, “The Federal Government will study the judgment and decide the next line of action within the provisions of the law.”
US declines comment
This is just as the US Department of Justice said it would not comment on the matter until the suspended DCP is successfully extradited.
The spokesperson, US Department of Justice’s Senior Communications Advisor for International Law Enforcement, Nicole Oxman, said this in an email exchange with The PUNCH.
A correspondent of a print media had sought to know the plans of the US government following the court judgment.
Oxman wrote, “As a matter of policy, the US Department of Justice generally does not comment on extradition-related matters until a defendant is in the United States.”