Extradition Of Abba Kyari To The US Not Automatic
There is no doubt that the recent pronouncement of the Central District Court of the Central District of California on the July 26, 2021 where the court ordered the extradition and detention of the Commander, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) Department of the Nigeria Police Force, Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari has generated hues and cries from different quarters and strata. The air is thick with rage, reactions, reprimand; all kinds of anathema and diatribe from political pundits, lackeys and legal minds.
In order not to throw out the baby with the bath water, it is important to pensively consider the issues at hand viz-a-viz international legal principles and protocols.
Corruption as a bane to the Nigerian Society and the United States’ Intervention
At present, Nigeria’s reputation in the international scene goes for a little less than a penny. The country has gathered notoriety as a den of 419ers (advance fee fraudsters); a tribe of diabolically sophisticated con-men who have made fraudulent activities their preoccupation from which they live big and high on fortunes illicitly obtained from other people.
Sadly, this evil trend has found its place in our political cycle. The cankerworm/pandemic has eaten too deep into the fabric of existence of our great nation. It is imperative to state pronto that corruption is an endemic sin against humanity and it is the root of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.
Undoubtedly, traditional, moral and modern antidotes and measures to fight against this phenomenon called corruption, have not been able to eradicate corrupt practices in human society.
It is without gainsay as it has been established that President Muhammadu Buhari has pointed the direction of Nigerians to the fight against corruption. However, the startling events in recent times have only shown that the mantra ‘fight against corruption’ has become ad nauseam with little to show for it.
There is no doubt that the United States of America’s assistance to Nigeria has sought to bolster peacekeeping capacity, enhance security, combat transnational crime, support civilian law enforcement and strengthen anti – fraud and cybercrime efforts particularly through the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) and such efforts must be commended.
As a corollary, the District Court must also be commended for ensuring that the course of justice is best served. However, one should not allow sentiments becloud the clear and unambiguous position of both international and municipal laws.
The Doctrine of Presumption of Innocence and the Imperative for Discreet Investigation
Without prejudice to the intrigues trailing the instant saga, one must not forget the doctrine of presumption of innocence which is the bedrock of our criminal jurisprudence enshrined in Section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and apparently applicable in most jurisdiction, the world all over.
For whatever it is worth, the allegations against the “Super Cop” are at best, ipse dixit without any concrete evidence. We speculate a lot and it is no surprise the spectators/observers are mostly excited. A prima facie case must first be made against him before the process of extradition can be initiated.
Legal Mechanisms for Extradition in Nigeria
It is unequivocal that Nigeria is a sovereign state and a citizen of Nigeria cannot be expelled/extradited from the country without strict adherence to the provisions of the Constitution and international protocols. What is more, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United States of America are bound by the provisions of the Extradition Treaty signed with the United States of America on December 22, 1931 (entered into force on June 24, 1935) including the Extradition Act of 1966, (Extradition Modification) Order, 2014, Extradition Act (Proceedings) Rules, 2015 and other International Protocols.
For a starter, by the provision of Section 6 of the Extradition Act, a request for the surrender of a fugitive criminal of any country shall be made in writing to the Attorney-General by a diplomatic representative or consular officer of that country and shall be accompanied by a duly authenticated warrant of arrest or certificate of conviction issued in that country.
Thereafter, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation would have to conduct a discreet and thorough investigation into the said allegations and upon the conclusion of same, if there is any prima facie case against DCP Abba Kyari, commence extradition processes against him in a Court of competent of jurisdiction within the Nigerian Territory and obtain an Order of Court before he can be extradited to the United States of America.
Other perdurable posers to answer are:
a. Was the said alleged offences against DCP Abba Kyari committed outside the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
b. Is the offence for which DCP Abba Kyari is being charged in the United States an extraditable offence under the Extradition Act?
c. Is the offence for which DCP Abba Kyari is being charged recognized as an offence punishable under the Nigerian Penal Laws?
d. Whether from the aggregate of facts and evidence presented to the Court by the US Special Prosecutor against DCP Abba Kyari, there is any nexus between him and the offence of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to engage in money laundering?
e. Whether from the aggregate of facts and evidence presented to the Court by the US Special Prosecutor, the probable offence for which DCP Abba Kyari might be charged is abuse of office which was an act done within the territory of Nigeria and within the exclusive imprimatur of the Nigerian government, the Police Service Commission and under the territorial jurisdiction of a Nigerian court?
While this article is not intended as a cannon fodder for the “Super Cop,” truth be told, the supposed ordeal of DCP Abba Kyari (if there is any) is not a tale of unrelieved woe; the present cloud though thick and intimidating, does have a silver lining!
It is interesting to note for the purpose of this discourse that the import of this deliberation is that the United State of America’s polity is engraved on the rock of adherence to principles of rule of law and due process.
The United States of America as the modern patriarch and beacon of democracy and popular sovereignty is therefore called upon at this crucial time to ensure that strict adherence to both international and municipal legal mechanisms are observed.
While we keep our fingers crossed in the interim, we should allow the law to take its course.
The office of the Attorney General of the Federation would have to conduct a discreet and thorough investigation into the said allegations and upon the conclusion of same, if there is any prima facie case against DCP Abba Kyari, commence extradition processes against him in a Court of competent of jurisdiction within the Nigerian Territory and obtain an Order of Court before he can be extradited to the United States of America