By Paul Michael, Defence Editor, Abuja
Several Nigerians have raised concern over the extradition application filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to extradite embattled and suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari to the United States and his ongoing trial by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Nigeria.
Kyari and six others were on Monday arraigned by NDLEA before Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court 8, Abuja, on an eight-count criminal charge bordering on conspiracy and drug trafficking.
When the charge in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CR/57/2022 was read to the accused, DCP Abba Kyari, ACP Sunday J. Ubia, ASP James Bawa, Inspector Simon Agirigba, and Inspector John Nuhu, who are all suspended police officers pleaded not guilty.
However, two other co-defendants Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alfonsus Ezenwanne pleaded guilty.
DCP Kyari was suspended last August following an FBI indictment linking him to money launderer and Instagram celebrity, Ramon Abbas aka Hushpuppi, who is awaiting sentencing by a US court for his role in cybercrimes.
A top source who was part of the investigative panel of Kyari’s indictment by the FBI told The Trumpet on condition of strict anonymity that the FBI which was secretly investigating Kyari was not pleased with honours that were being bestowed on him as a “super cop”. Hence, the indictment.
Among other honours, DCP Kyari was in 2016 conferred with a Presidential medal for courage by President Muhammadu Buhari. In June 2020, the Federal House of Representatives honoured him for his hard work and outstanding performance over the years in the Nigeria Police Force.
The source confidently stated that the FBI was not really interested in the extradition of Kyari and likely not to make such request, especially now that the NDLEA is investigating him for his involvement in a 25kg cocaine deal.
However, last Thursday, Malami announced that extradition application has been filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja following a request by the U.S. authorities.
A statement by his spokesperson, Umar
Gwandu, said “As you are aware, extradition is a process that involves multifaceted components.
“Submission of request from the concerned party to the relevant authorities constitutes one of such components.
“The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice received the extradition request in respect of the officer in question.
“After thorough studies and reviews of issues regarding the application and components thereof, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice processed the application and forward same to the relevant authorities for further necessary action.”
In a swift reaction, the NDLEA said it has filed charges against Kyari and six others days before the extradition application was filed by the Attorney General.
“Please note that the charges against Abba Kyari and 6 others were filed by NDLEA Since Monday 28th February 2022, the case since assigned to a judge with arraignment fixed for Monday 7th March at FHC 8 Abuja,” the agency said on Twitter.
Reacting to the development, a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Efffiong asked the anti-narcotics agency to drop its charges against Kyari in the interest of the extradition application. Adding that should NDLEA fails to drop the charges, it would be obvious that the drug case against Kyari was a hatched plan to shield him from extradition.
“The extradition application filed by the Attorney General of the federation for Abba Kyari to be extradited to the US is a welcome development. Now that the FG has taken this step, NDLEA has to stay action on the drug-related charges against Kyari. That’s the implication.
“Section 3 of the Extradition Act makes it imperative for the prosecution of Kyari on the drug charges to be put on hold. This is because, by the said provision, extradition application will be refused by the court if the wanted fugitive is undergoing prosecution for another crime.
“If Abubakar Malami SAN is serious and honest about extraditing Kyari, he should ensure that the NDLEA does not file charges against Kyari at this time. Otherwise, it will vindicate those who have asserted that the drug allegations may just be a disguised attempt to shield Kyari,” he said.
Also, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa SAN, in an Interactive section with newsmen argued that the fresh charges by the NDLEA were part of a ploy to shield the suspended DCP from extradition to the US.
Adegboruwa said that as long as Kyari is facing charges in Nigeria, he cannot be extradited to the U.S.
According to the SAN, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba was earlier reluctant in the investigation of the cases of corruption Kyari was embellished in.
“There is a belief that the charges filed are a purported conspiracy theory to shield Abba Kyari from extradition. The Inspector General of Police was reluctant in investigating the cases of corruption Kyari was embellished in.
“What we see from the AGF is just part of the widely believed theory. And of course, the fresh charges will prevent him from being extradited. You cannot be extradited when you are answering to fresh charges,” he said.
However, Yomi Aliyu (SAN) in his reaction said since Kyari is merely wanted as an accomplice in the U.S, it is needless extraditing him, as charges can be pressed against him in Nigeria.
“I think before Christmas of 1931, Great Britain signed an extradition treaty with the U.S on behalf of Nigeria. The said treaty covers every British colony.
“Since the crime for which Kyari is wanted in the U.S as merely an accomplice and more importantly because the crime took place in Nigeria the AGF may decide to charge him to court for the offence in a Nigerian Court.
“It is also an important provision of the law that if the person sought to be extradited is serving terms for another offence in Nigeria or charged for an offence the defendant cannot be extradited until the conclusion of the term or case.
“However, it is not the duty of the AGF to say that the person is facing a charge or that he is on trial for another offence. The AGF is to file an application for extradition in Court. It is left for the defendant to raise the defence and when raised, the Judge has discretion to determine whether or not the purported trial is fluke!”
Meanwhile, a source from the NDLEA who confided in The Trumpet said the extradition moves by AGF is a ploy to frustrate the trial of Kyari by the NDLEA to avoid some top personalities from being indicted.
“What is happening is a conspiracy against the successful trial of Abba Kyari and his co-travellers by the NDLEA. There are fears that if Kyari is tried by NDLEA, there may be some revelations that might indict some big names. So, they want to send him away to the U.S to face his music alone.
“Don’t forget that the NDLEA has raised an alarm that its officials investigating the 25kg cocaine deal are being threatened. There are lots of politics going on to force NDLEA to submit. But I can assure you that the agency is fully ready to pursue the case against Kyari and the 6 others,” he stated.