Why Court refused to extradite Abba Kyari to US
Details have emerged why the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday freed Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari and refused to grant the Nigerian Government’s request to extradite him to the United States.
Recall the US federal prosecutors had furnished the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, with an alleged money laundering case involving Abba Kyari and an internet fraudster, Hushpuppi.
Kyari has consistently denied any wrong doing regarding Hushpuppi and explained his short dealing with him was official sting investigation and was well documented.
The police investigation into that allegation also cleared Kyari of any criminal wrong doing regarding his investigation of the case.
The US government had written to the AGF that Kyari was charged with money laundering thereby requesting for Kyari’s extradition so he could face trial before its court, based on the accusations the Nigerian Police investigated and found nothing culpable against him, as it was confirmed that kyari has never demanded, negotiated or collected one kobo from Hushpupi and he has never participated in any of hushpupi’s crimes within the 9 months period that Hushpupi was introduced to kyari.
Arguing against his extradition, Kyari’s lawyer, Nureni Jimoh, SAN, urged the court to strike out the application because his client had many months before hushpupi’s arrest, informed the police authorities and the head of interpol in Nigeria through written letters which were also tendered in court that he is maintaining a documented sting investigation communication with Hushpuppi for the purpose of luring him back to Nigeria.
He contended that while the federal government wants to desert his client over developments on Hushpuppi and turning blind eye to the professionalism associated with his role as DCP and all his outstanding records of Service to the Nation for which he received Awards from the Nigerian President 2016, National Assembly 2020 and also Award from
FBI themselves in 2018. All the allegations the FBI are alleging are baseless allegations against Kyari because they refused to verify anything from the sting investigation chats they saw on Hushpupi phone. Had it been they gave kyari fair hearing the indictment wouldn’t have happened.
But the AGF’s lawyer, Pius Akuta, said since Kyari’s name has been entered as a defendant before the US court, he ought to appear at the proceedings to defend himself notwithstanding that he was not given fair hearing before the indictment.
In his judgment on Monday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the Extradition Act permits a Nigerian to be extradited to another country even when he or she is already facing a charge under the Nigerian law.
“The position of the law is that extradition can be approved on anyone who is charged under Nigerian law like the NDLEA Act and the person shall be surrendered for extradition after the case is discharged or when the person finishes his sentence ,” he said.
According to the judge, the case and application for Kyari’s extradition was “done in bad faith” and malice. He added that, request for Kyari’s extradition can still be granted even if he’s still standing trial but such “application must be done in good faith.”
The judge contended that if the need to extradite Kyari was found to be justifiable, even as he’s standing trial in another court, the court can grant the request pending “the conclusion of that trial before he can be extradited.
“According, I make an order dismissing this application because its not done in good faith, this is the judgement of this court,” he said.
Speaking with journalists after the judgement, another Kyari’s lawyer, Hamza Dantani, explained that the case was dismissed because it “lacks merit and everything was not done in good faith. The dismissal of the case has nothing to do with any other pending case on the ground as the Judge Righly stated.
“The Judge clarified in his judgement that having a pending case is not a ground for refusing extradition, the Learned Judge explained that the law says extradition can be approved for anybody that has a pending case so that the extradition will be done after the pending case is concluded.
“But in this case, the Judge went ahead to state clearly that the case is dismissed because it lacks merit and it’s not done in good faith.
“All the allegations on Dcp Abba Kyari’s extradition application are not true and no single evidence to link up to him,” he argued.
He pointed out that, “The application for the extradition charges were framed up. This accounts for failure to invite Abba Kyari or take his statement before the highly publicized indictment, playing on the intelligence of Nigerians and Nigerian authority.
“It is in the interest of justice to order discharge and to dismiss the application having regard to the circumstances of this matter.
“The documents relied upon by the Attorney General and also the US are not authenticated in the manner prescribed by law.”
According to him, “The United States of America cannot produce a fair and unbiased case diary linking Abba Kyari with hushpuppy or any crime.
“Also, the US does not know and didn’t ask to know the extent of the “sting investigation” embarked upon by Abba Kyari against the accused person, Hushpupi in the case.”
He however added that, “Notwithstanding that Abba kyari is somebody the FBI know very well and was given commendation letter by the FBI for rescuing many Americans from kidnappers in Nigeria and even arrested all the killers who kidnapped and murdered a serving US Soldier in Imo State back in 2018.
“It is in the interest of justice , the presiding judge, Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed the extradition Application instituted by the Federal Government seeking to extradite the DCP, Abba Kyari to the United States of America for lack of merit and not in good faith.
“The request also contravenes Section 3 (1-7) and section 6 (2) of the Extradition Act and in view of the long settled judicial decision that by Extradition (USA) Order covered by Legal Notice No. 33 of 1967 adopting the pre-independent Extradition Treaty between the UK and USA of 1931 is binding on Nigeria. See George Udoezor v. FRN CA/L/375/05, AGF v. Olayinka
Johnson FHC/L/16C/2013,” he said.