Court rejects FG’s request to extradite Abba Kyari to US

A FEDERAL High Court in Abuja has dismissed an application by the Federal Government for permission to extradite the detained former head of the police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) Abba Kyari to the United States (US) to face trial.

The US authorities want prosecute Kyari over his alleged involvement with an Internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling on Monday, held that the extradition application filed by the Federal Government through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was “incompetent and bereft of merit”.

Ekwo maintained that Malami, as the country’s Chief Law Officer, ought to be aware that the Extradition Act forbade the surrendering of a defendant already facing trial before a competent court in the country.

The judge wondered why the AGF approached the court with the extradition application when he was equally the one that issued fiat to the National Drug Law Enforcement (NDLEA) to prosecute Kyari on drug-related charges.

“The AGF could not say that he was not aware of the pending proceeding against the defendant which was entered against him by the NDLEA”, Justice Ekwo said.

He further held that the law was clear that Kyari, having been docked before a court of competent jurisdiction in the country, “shall not be surrendered until such 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.

The court had, on June 3, reserved the matter for judgment after hearing from the Federal Government’s lawyer Pius Akutah and Kyari’s lawyer, Nureni Jimoh, SAN.

While the Federal Government maintained that it had met all condition precedents for the suspended police officer to be sent to the US to answer a pending criminal charge against him, on the other hand, Kyari challenged the legal competence of the extradition request against him.

The NDLEA had filed an eight-count criminal charge against Kyari.

The case which is before an Abuja Federal High Court is centred on Kyari’s alleged involvement in drug trafficking.

Other defendants in the case include four members of the IRT– Sunday J. Ubia, Bawa James, Simon Agirigba and John Nuhu.

Two other defendants in the case are suspected drug traffickers who were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu – Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne.

The NDLEA in the suit accused Kyari and four other defendants of conspiracy, obstruction and dealing in cocaine worth 17.55 kilograms.

The NDLEA filed the charges barely 24 hours after Malami announced the approval of Kyari’s extradition to the US to face trial over his alleged involvement in a scam perpetrated by Hushpuppi.

The ICIR had reported that the NDLEA case might hinder Kyari’s extradition to the US.

Kyari is wanted in the US to stand trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft.

On April 29, 2021, a grand jury 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.

The United States had established that Hushpuppi used fraud proceeds to acquire second citizenship in St. Kitts.

In June 2021, the Dubai Police arrested the Hushpuppi and other African cybercriminals in a special operation dubbed ‘Fox Hunt 2’ and transferred them to the US.

    In a statement, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) noted that the duo defrauded a Qatari businessperson by claiming to be consultants and bankers who could facilitate a loan to finance the construction of a school for $1.1 million.

    The statement confirmed how they used proceeds from the fraud to acquire citizenship in St. Christopher and Nevis, an island nation known as St. Kitts and Nevis.

    Hushpuppi had earlier pleaded guilty to the fraud allegation against him.

    The US Attorney’s Office for Central District of California, Los Angeles, has disclosed that Ramon Abbas will be sentenced on September 21.

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