Justice E. S Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday deferred to May 4 ruling in the extradition proceedings brought against Ehidiamhem Okoyomon, a former managing director and chief executive of Nigeria Security, Printing and Minting Company, NSPMC, by the office of Attorney General of the Federation.
Instead of the ruling, prosecuting counsel, M. S Hassan and defence counsel, Chukwuemeka J. Dumaka, who stood in for Alex Iziyon, SAN, re-adopted their written addresses and oral submissions in line with the constitutional provision that parties to any trial must re-adopt their addresses if judgment was not delivered within three months of the adoption of final addresses. It is over three months since the parties first adopted their written addresses.
The court had originally reserved ruling for December 1, 2014 but adjourned on the grounds that the judgment was not ready. Today’s adjournment is the fourth time ruling would be deferred in the extradition case.
Mr. Okoyomon is wanted in the UK over his alleged role in the bribery scandal involving officials of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company, NSPMC, and Securency International Pty of Australia, between 2006 and 2008.
His counsel Mr. Iziyon, had argued that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the application to extradite the respondent, that the 1931 treaty which the prosecution counsel is relying upon has been repealed by Decree No 87 of 1966.
He argued that the 1931 treaty between UK and Nigeria was just an agreement, not a law.
“I submit that, even if you want to consider that, it was between UK and United States and it governs the protectorate that was under UK then. We have since left in 1960”.
Mr. Hassan, in response, argued that the 1931 treaty became applicable to Nigeria in 1935 and that it was never repealed by any enactment. He further told the court that “schedule 2 under extradition law provides that the law shall apply to all Commonwealth nations”.
He urged the court to grant his plea based on the extradition treaty of 1931 between Nigeria and the UK which is applicable in Nigeria.
Following the October 1, 2009 launch of the polymer bank notes in Nigeria, which saw the N5, N10, and N50 notes remade in polymer material as against the original paper version, a scandal broke that CBN and NSPM officials received bribes to effect the switch to polymer.
NEXT, the now rested Nigerian newspaper, had reported extensively how Securency Pty, a bank note printing company owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), engaged in a series of bribery schemes to secure polymer note printing jobs.
According to the paper, as well as an Australian newspaper, The Age, at least N750 million was paid in bribes to some Nigerian officials between 2006 and 2008 to secure the contract which saw to the initial supply of about 1.9 billion pieces of polymer substrates on which bank notes were printed.
Subsequently, several international investigations over the activities of the bank note company led to the arrest, prosecution as well as sack of several top management staff of the RBA and its sister company, Securency Pty.
In its own investigation, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the EFCC interrogated several officials of the CBN and NSPM.
But while no official of the Central Bank has so far been indicted, the commission has been in court with Mr. Okoyomon, over the request to extradite him to the United Kingdom to face prosecution over some findings related to the allegations.
The U.K. had sought the extradition of Mr. Okoyomon over his alleged role in the bribery scheme allegedly executed between 2006 and 2008.