Crime & Law
Hushpuppi: Malami’s request stalls hearing on Abba Kyari’s extradition to U.S.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Wednesday, persuaded the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, to further adjourn hearing on the extradition proceeding he initiated against the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari.
Malami, had in the pending application before the court, sought the extradition of Kyari to the United States of America, USA, to face trial over his alleged involvement with a notorious internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi.
The application, which was brought before the court since March 1, has suffered series of adjournments.
The court had on March 23, adjourned the matter over the inability of the AGF to serve the relevant processes on Kyari.
At the resumed sitting in the matter on Wednesday, a counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Pius Akuta, told the court that he had on April 19, filed a motion for extension of time.
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Akuta, said the request for more time was to enable the AGF to respond to processes that were served on him by the Respondent.
Among the processes included a preliminary objection the embattled former head of the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, DCP Kyari, filed to challenge his planned extradition to the US.
Though Kyari’s lawyer, Mr. Mahmud Magaji, SAN, did not object to Malami’s request for time, however, Justice Inyang Ekwo, expressed his displeasure over the continued stalling of the matter.
“I had on the last adjourned date, directed all the parties to file and exchange all the relevant processes within seven days to enable this matter to be heard.
“But here we are again. This matter would have been heard today, if not for this application for extension of time”, Justice Ekwo noted.
He subsequently adjourned the matter till June 2.
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, afterwhich a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Malami said the application for his extradition was based on a request by the Diplomatic Representative of the U.S. Embassy in Abuja for Kyari to be surrendered for trial.
The AGF, in an affidavit that was filed in support of the extradition application, said he was satisfied that the offence in respect of which Kyari’s surrender was sought, is not political or trivial.
He said he was also satisfied that the request for Kyari to be surrendered, was not made to persecute or punish him on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions, but in good faith and the interest of justice.
According to him, Kyari, “if surrendered, will not be prejudiced at his trial and will not be punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty, by reason of his race, nationality or political opinions”, adding that having regard to all the circumstances in which the alleged offence was committed, it would not be unjust or oppressive, or severe a punishment, to surrender him.
Malami, noted that there was no criminal proceeding pending against Kyari in Nigeria, bordering on the same offence for which he is wanted in the USA.
The AGF had ealier told the court that his inability to serve processes in the application marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/249/2022, on Kyari, was due to the fact that he had been in the custody of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, over another criminal case.
Kyari, is answering to an eight-count charge the NDLEA preferred against him a six others.
The other Defendants in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/57/2022, are four former members of the Police IRT, ACP Sunday J. Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu, as well as two drug traffickers that were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne.
It will be recalled that Umeibe and Ezenwanne, who were cited as the 6th and 7th Defendants in the charge, had on March 7, when they were arraigned alongside DCP Kyari, pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking charge against them.
Following an application by the NDLEA, trial Justice Emeka Nwite, adjourned to review the facts of the case so as to sentence the two Defendants (Umuibe and Ezenwanne), accordingly.