Why Abba Kyari’s extradition to US may suffer setback


The attempt by the Federal Government to extradite embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, may have hit a brick wall as there are pending charges against him before a Federal High Court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

Kyari has been in NDLEA custody since February 14 for attempting to sell 25kg of cocaine which was seized from some drug dealers. The NDLEA had also accused him of being a drug kingpin.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had in a statement by his Media Aide, Umar Gwandu, on Thursday stated that the Nigerian government was willing to extradite Kyari to the United States where he has been indicted for his role in an international fraud involving notorious scammer, Ramon Abbas aka Ray Hushpuppi.

“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 forwarded same to the relevant authorities for further necessary action,” the statement read.

However, a few hours later, the NDLEA revealed that it had filed eight counts against Kyari before a Federal High Court on Monday and that Kyari would be arraigned on March 7.

In a tweet on Thursday, the drug enforcement agency said, “Please note that the charges against Abba Kyari and six others were filed by the NDLEA since Monday, February 28, 2022, the case since assigned to a judge with arraignment fixed for Monday, March 7 at the Federal High Court 8, Abuja.”

A copy of the charge sheet marked FHC/ABJ/CR/57/2022 filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja and signed by NDLEA Director (Prosecution and Legal Services), Joseph Sunday, showed that those charged along with Kyari were an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sunday Ubua; Assistant Superintendent of Police, Bawa James; Inspector Simon Agirigba; Inspector John Nuhu; Chibuinna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne.

In count one, Abba Kyari, ACP Sunday Ubua, ASP Bawa James, Inspector Simon Agirigba, and Inspector John Nuhu, all of Intelligence Response Team were said to have between January 19 and 25 dealt in 17. 55kg of cocaine and committed and offence contrary to and punishable under section 14 (b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, CAP 30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

One of the counts read, “That you DCP Abba Kyari, ACP Sunday J Ubua, ASP Bawa James, Inspector Simon Agirgba and Inspector John Nuhu, all male adults on or about the 19th to 25th January 2022, within the office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence Response Team, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable unlawfully tampered with 21.35kg of cocaine seized from Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwannne in the custody of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, by removing and disposing 17.55kg of the cocaine and substituting same with some other substance and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 16 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ACT CAP N30 Laws of the Federation 2004.”

Another charge reads, “That you DCP Abba Kyari, on or about 25th January 2022, at a restaurant on Port Harcourt Crescent, Area 11, Garki Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the court, attempted to obstruct the Agency and its authorised officers in the exercise of their duties by offering the sum of $61,400.00 USD (sixty-one thousand, four hundred United States of America Dollars) to a senior officer of the Agency as inducement to prevent the testing of the 17.55kg of substance used to replace the cocaine seized from Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 23 and punishable under section 49 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”

SANS react
In separate interviews on Thursday, some Senior Advocates of Nigeria said that the extradition of Kyari could be deterred following the official charges filed against him by the NDLEA.

The senior advocates added that the suspended DCP, if found guilty in Nigeria would have to serve his term before being allowed to leave the country for the US to answer for his crimes

Mr. Yomi Aliyu (SAN) said, “I think before Christmas of 1931, Great Britain signed an extradition treaty with the US on behalf of Nigeria. The said treaty covers every British colony. Since the crime for which Kyari is wanted in the US 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 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!”

Also, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), in an interview argued that the fresh charges by the NDLEA were part of a plot to shield the suspended DCP from extradition to the US.

Adegboruwa argued that as long as Kyari is facing charges in Nigeria, he cannot be extradited.

According to the learned silk, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba had earlier displayed reluctance 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.”

Police begin dismissal process
Meanwhile, it was learnt that the Nigeria Police Force had begun the formal process of dismissing Kyari from the Force. This comes barely a month after the police recommended that Kyari be demoted by one rank for his alleged links to Hushpuppi.

It was learnt that a query was sent by the police to Kyari and others in NDLEA detention. Recommendations are expected to be forwarded to the Police Service Commission soon after.

“A query was issued to Kyari and others by the police earlier in the week. This is part of the formal process for his eventual dismissal ahead of his prosecution. The Police Service Commission is expected to endorse the report by the police and dismiss him from the Force. Serving policemen cannot be arraigned,” said a security source.

Human rights and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr Mike Ozekhome, SAN has said the charges filed against suspended DCP, Abba Kyari by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency will put the latter’s extradition process on hold.

Ozekhome who spoke in an interview with The PUNCH said, “Considering the wide powers of the Attorney General of the Federation as stipulated in Section 174 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as altered), the Hon. Attorney General can exercise his duty to institute an action against Abba Kyari after thorough study and review of the issue regarding the order of arrest by Judge (Otis Wright) of the U.S. District Court.

“Considering the fact that Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as altered) vests the Federal High Court with jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts in civil causes and matters connected with or pertaining to extradition. In addition, the court can also ensure a provisional trust warrant for the arrest of a fugitive accused of an extradition offence or unlawfully at least after being convicted of an extradition offence without an order of the Attorney General as required under section 6 of the information and evidence presented to him are such that will justify the issue of a warrant if the offence had been committed in the division where he has jurisdiction.