By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
What many cynical lawyers and commentators feared was going to happen over the extradition of Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari has played out: many said the government was going to throw the case tand mess it up to let Kyari go free of the extradition. And going by the comments of a trial judge in Abuja wondering why the trial was contemplated, the pundits were proved right.
Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed the suit by the Federal Government seeking to extradite the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police DCP, Abba Kyari to the United States of America.
Tia judgment on Monday, the judge held that the extradition request filed by the Attorney General of the Federation AGF, Abubakar Malami SAN, on behalf of the Federal Government lacked merit and liable to dismissal.
The Federal Government fiiled the extradition charges against Kyari to pave way for his extradition to America to answer fraud allegations in the United States of America.
Justice Ekwo however, held that the Federal Government has no basis to file the extradition request having put Abba Kyari on trial in Nigeria in relation to the allegations against him in America.
The Judge specifically 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 court wondered why the AGF approached the court with the extradition application when he was equally the one that issued the fiat to the National Drug Law Enforcement, NDLEA, to prosecute DCP 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 added.
He said 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 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.
Justice Ekwo had on June 3, reserved the matter for judgment, after he heard from Federal Government’s lawyer, Mr. Pius Akutah, and that of Kyari, Mr. Nureni Jimoh, SAN.
While the Federal Government maintained that it had met all conditions precedent for the suspended DCP to be extradited to the US to answer a pending criminal charge against him, Kyari challenged the legal competence of the extradition request against him.
Kyari, who is currently in prison custody for drug related charges, had told the court that contrary to the allegation against him, he had some months before Hushpuppi was arrested, sent a letter to both the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police, IGP, notifying them that he had opened a channel of communication with the suspected internet fraudster, in furtherance of an ongoing investigation.
Kyari is wanted in the U.S. to stand trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft.
A grand jury had in April 29, 2021, filed an indictment against him with the approval of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, after which a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Hushpuppi had earlier pleaded guilty to the alleged $1.1million fraud charge against him, even as the US Attorney’s Office for Central District of California, Los Angeles, revealed that he will be sentenced on September 21.