The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has said there is no confusion or conflict over the extradition proceedings and cocaine-trafficking charges filed against Abba Kyari, a suspended deputy commissioner of police.
Mr Malami said this while addressing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday.
There have been concerns that the move to extradite Mr Kyari to the U.S. may be scuttled by the cocaine-related charges filed against him at the Federal High Court in Abuja by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The concerns are anchored on section 3 (6) of the Extradition Act, which prohibits the extradition of a fugitive standing trial on different criminal charges in Nigeria.
The part of the Extradition Act reads, “(A) A fugitive criminal who has been charged with an offence under the law of Nigeria or any part thereof, not being the offence for which his surrender is sought; or
“(B) Who is serving a sentence imposed in respect of any such offence by a court in Nigeria, shall not be surrendered until such a time as he has been discharged whether by acquittal or on the expiration of his sentence or otherwise.”
But Mr Malami, without addressing the specific implication of the statutory provisions on the move to extradite Mr Kyari, described the concerns about the likely impact of the cocaine-trafficking charges on the extradition move as a misconception.
“There is no confusion, but there is a great misconception or perhaps either mischievous or otherwise on the part of certain, perhaps journalists that have not taken their time to study a situation, understand it and act accordingly,” he said.
He recalled that the United States government had asked for Mr Kyari’s extradition regarding his roles in a $1.1million fraud spearheaded by a former Nigerian Instagram celebrity, Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, before the NDLEA charged him with cocaine-related offences in February.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Malami filed the extradition proceedings against Mr Kyari based on the U.S. government’s request.
Despite the clear provisions of the Extradition Act and the likelihood of the defence citing the NDLEA case as grounds for dismissing the extradition proceedings, the AGF maintained that there was no conflict between the two cases on Wednesday.
“What I am saying is there is nothing like confusion, there is nothing like conflict, there are two distinct and separate cases,” he said.
He added, “So the conclusion as to whether a person should be extradited or not, is a function, or perhaps multilateral function inclusive of the international community that makes a request, the Office of the Attorney General … request and the judiciary to which the request is presented for review, analysis and decision.”
Asked the status of the extradition proceedings, Mr said, “It’s being processed at the judicial level.”
The comment appears to be an attempt to set the judiciary up for blame, considering that the court may have to dismiss the extradition proceedings once the pending NDLEA’s cocaine case is cited by Mr Kyari’s legal team.
It also fuels speculations about a conspiracy theory that the NDLEA case was hurriedly filed in court to scuttle the extradition proceedings, and have Mr Kyari remain in Nigeria where his trial can go on without an end for years.
Mr Malami’s response to the question of the implication of the cocaine charges on the extradition case was non-committal.
Asked about the legal implication of elevating the illegal dealing in cocaine charges above the extradition case, the AGF said, “You can have hundreds of cases pending in court related to a single individual.
“So that is the position things and as you rightly know perhaps you may have a criminal case pending before a state high court another one pending before the federal court depending on the magnitude dimensions, characters and peculiarities of the case. I hope it is clear.”
He went on to distinguish between the extradition case and the cocaine-related, without being clear on whether or not the extradition proceedings might be scuttled.
“And then while this (communication with U.S.) was ongoing, the request for extradition was being considered, another case came in, which has to do with the NDLEA, and this time around a local case that is devoid of any international dimension,” he said.
He explained further that “what you have are two distinct separate and independent cases – one international in dimension the other one local, so your idea of conflict does not arise.”
He blamed the “misconception” arising from the matter on journalists whom he accused of “reporting cases out of context without caring to understand the true provisions, dimensions and characters of a case might have”.
“What I am saying is there is nothing like confusion, there is nothing like conflict, there are two distinct and separate cases,” he added.
Further probe on fraud allegation
Mr Malami also reiterated that his office had yet to exonerate Mr Kyari of his alleged involvement in the Hushpuppi fraud case.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Malami explained that his recent legal advice to the police was not meant to exonerate Mr Kyari.
He described the case as a work in progress.
Mr Malami noted that the report of the investigation was submitted to his office for a review “to see whether there is a need for enhancement of investigation as it relates to certain key elements of the offence”.
“So it is from this background perspective that you will need to consider what fully transpired in the case of Abba Kyari. Allegations were made, investigations were conducted, and then requests for further enhancement of investigation were indeed made by the Office of the Attorney General for the purpose of covering the field in arriving at an informed decision one way or the other.
“So while this process of correspondence between the Office of the Attorney General and the police is ongoing, it is indeed a work in progress and never conclusive position. So that is what I can tell you clearly, there was indeed an independent request for an investigation.
“Interim investigation report was presented to the office of the attorney general and the attorney general at the point requested for further enhancement of the investigation and highlighted some areas in respect of which enhancement of investigation is required.
“So it is indeed premature or perhaps mischievous for any conclusion to have been driven in the direction of exoneration or otherwise of liability or responsibility related therein.”
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