HomeOpinionsThe Extradition Process: A Chronicled Step-by-Step Analysis of Extradition in Nigeria

The Extradition Process: A Chronicled Step-by-Step Analysis of Extradition in Nigeria

Introduction

Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, is situated on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa and is home to about 200 million people. The nation is sometimes referred to as the “Giant of Africa” and boasts one of the fastest-expanding economies in the world. Nigeria has established several institutions and created an amazing array of legislative frameworks in recent decades to fight organized crime and corruption. To effectively control trans-border crimes and collaborate with other countries in the pursuit, apprehension, and punishment of international criminals or fugitives, in addition to apprehending and prosecuting all local offenders, much work remains to be done.

In 2016 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) began compiling a compilation of Nigerian laws, case law, treaties the nation is party to, and other materials on extradition with assistance from the European Union as part of the project on “Support to Anti-Corruption in Nigeria.” It dates back to ancient times when people tried to flee a society in order to avoid facing retribution. This might have something to do with our innate tendency to fight or run away from perceived danger.

Cross-border mobility is becoming easier and faster due to improving international ties between states and developments in transport technology, providing fugitives with a plethora of options for where to go and how to get there.

Ironically, these same elements are also vital resources that help states locate runaways and obtain their extradition with the assistance of neighboring jurisdictions.

Furthermore, Nigeria’s extradition laws are primarily governed by its extradition treaties with other countries and domestic legislation. The country has extradition treaties with several nations, allowing for the extradition of individuals accused or convicted of serious offenses.

The legal basis for extradition in Nigeria includes the Extradition Act, which provides the legal framework for the surrender of individuals wanted for prosecution or to serve a sentence in another country.

Extradition requests are typically handled through diplomatic channels between the requesting country and Nigeria. The request must meet specific legal requirements outlined in the Extradition Act for it to be considered valid. In Nigeria, extradition procedures entail judicial, administrative, and diplomatic actions.

These actions could be deemed unconstitutional if carried out in a way that deviates from the stringent constitutional and statutory guidelines.

Incompatible with or against the law. The applicable legislation offer the legal foundation for extradition, authority in extradition cases, and other issues include bail while extradition is being processed or after. Together, these problems containing a list of extradition tools that are relevant in Nigeria are discussed in this voyage of discovery.

What is Extradition?

A person who has been charged with or found guilty of a crime is officially sent to the state where they are either wanted for trial or ordered to serve their sentence once a court of law has duly found them guilty. This process is known as extradition.

Extradition is the process of returning someone who has been accused of a crime by a different legal authority to the requesting authority for a trial or punishment, as stated by the Court of Appeal in George Udeozor v Federal Republic of Nigeria. The process of returning someone accused of a crime by a different legal authority to the asking authority for a trial or punishment is known as extradition.

A person is only considered wanted for trial for the purposes of extradition proceedings if a judge has issued a warrant demanding that the subject be brought to answer to criminal allegations in court. This is not the same as when someone is sought, say, to be questioned as a witness.

In Attorney-General of the Federation v. Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, also known as “Abdullahi” Ayatollah Mustapher (Babafemi)”  The respondent was sought for allegedly plotting to help a foreign terrorist organization operating in the US.

Sufficient to present before the Federal High Court that the Respondent was the subject of an ongoing indictment in addition to a warrant for the Respondent’s arrest issued by a United States Magistrate Judge apprehension. These made the Respondent eligible for extradition.

The prospect or status of an appeal does not affect an individual who has already been found guilty and punished in terms of their extraditable status. In Uche Okafor Prince v. Attorney-General of the Federation, the Helsinki District Court in Finland found the Respondent guilty. Afterwards, the Court of Appeal in Helsinki, Finland, maintained the conviction. Upon After being found guilty, the Respondent traveled to Nigeria without completing the sentence. After Finland requested extradition,  In the course of the extradition process, the Respondent’s extradition to the Republic of Finland was ordered by the Federal High Court. The Respondent told the court during the extradition hearing that the conviction could be overturned by the Court of Appeal. The court’s decision, which was centered on whether the Respondent had a sentence that needed to be served, was unaffected by this information.

Furthermore, the court stipulated in the case of Attorney-General of the Federation v. Olayinka Johnson (AKA Big Brother), AKA Rafiu Kofoworola), (AKA Gbolahan Opeyemi Akinola)  the purpose of the extradition process is not to act as the respondent’s trial. Instead, the proceedings are an indication of thoughtful practice grounded in the idea that it is in every State’s interest to prevent those who are escaping justice from seeking sanctuary outside of the borders of the State in which they are wanted.

In R v. Arton (No. 1), Lord Russell of Killowen, C.J. observed as early as 1896 that:

The law of extradition is without doubt founded upon the broad principle that it is in the interest of civilized communities that crimes acknowledged as such should not go unpunished and it is part of the comity of nations that one State should afford to another every assistance towards bringing persons guilty of such crimes to justice.

Extradition as distinguished from Rendition

It is also worthy of note that extradition should not be mistaken for rendition. Rendition is the umbrella word for various processes, including extradition, used to remove wanted individuals or foreign nationals from a state.

Abduction and the fictitious “extraordinary rendition” are two illegal or irregular methods of bringing back individuals wanted for trial or criminal prosecution.

Extraordinary rendition refers to the state-sponsored arrest, kidnapping, and abduction of individuals who are desired, accused, or found guilty of a crime, either to the state that initiated the action or to a state that is willing to assist. A person’s ability to contest their transfer to the state making the request or the state receiving it is denied by extraordinary rendition. It entails transgressing the fundamentals of international law. Particularly in cases where the transferred individuals are tortured or falsely accused of crimes or put on trial.

An example of an attempt at unlawful rendition is the 1984 “Dikko Affair”. Following an overthrow in 1983, the Nigerian Federal Military Government asked the British government to release Umaru Dikko, a former minister who was allegedly implicated in corrupt activities. Mr. Dikko was kidnapped by an intelligence officer from the Nigerian security services along with three Israeli nationals, and they tried to ship him to Nigeria in a crate before the British government reacted to the request. The British security services thwarted this plot, the kidnappers were imprisoned, and ties between Nigeria and Britain deteriorated. Nigeria made an attempt, though an unsuccessful one, to defy international conventions in order to demonstrate its political will.

Relevant Legal Statutes Applicable for Extradition in Nigeria

The Federal High Court (Extradition Proceedings) Rules 2015, the Extradition Act of 1966, the Extradition Act (Modification) Order of 2014, and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are the primary legal documents that are normally relevant to extradition.

The Evidence Act of 2011, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015, the Federal High Court Act of 1973, and other pertinent laws, such as the Criminal Code, Penal Code, and penal provisions of other laws pertaining to criminal justice, are further pertinent legislation.

  •  Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian, 1999

The federal, state, and local administrations comprise the three tiers of governance that underpin the Nigerian State’s constitutional democracy. All other laws in the Nigerian legal system are predicated on the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution. The 1999 Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria” is stated clearly in that document. Thus, the 1999 Constitution serves as the instrument. Which determines the legitimacy or legality of all currently enacted legislation inside the nation. In light of this, the 1999 Constitution states that any other law that conflicts with its provisions “shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”

  • 1966 Extradition Act

The Extradition Act of 1966 was passed on December 31, 1966, and went into effect in January 1967.It was enacted to remove all prior extradition laws enacted by or applicable to Nigeria, and to establish a more complete legal framework for the extradition of fugitive convicts. While the Constitution serves as the broad legal basis for extradition law and practice, the Extradition Act is the principal piece of legislation addressing specific issues. It recognizes two distinct categories of States as the primary statute governing extradition in Nigeria. States in the first category have an extradition agreement with Nigeria, for which an agreement order has been issued, and published in the federal gazette

  •  Federal High Court (Extradition Proceedings) Rules, 2015

The Federal High Court (Extradition Proceedings) Rules, 2015 were enacted in accordance with the powers granted to the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court under the 1999 Constitution.  These powers empower the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to issue procedural rules governing issues before the Federal High Court. Although the Extradition Act has some procedural safeguards, they are insufficient and do not address many aspects of the proceedings.

The Federal High Court (Extradition Proceedings) Rules were created to ensure clarity in extradition proceedings and to encourage efficient and quick extradition hearings. The Federal High Court (Extradition Proceedings) Rules detail the steps for extradition proceedings that are not covered by the Extradition Act.

  • Evidence Act, 2011

With the exception of a field general court-martial, the Evidence Act applies to all criminal prosecutions. As a result, the Evidence Act applies to extradition proceedings before the Federal High Court. The Evidence Act governs, among other things, the admissibility and weight of evidence, the burden of proof, and the competency and compellability of witnesses. The Court emphasized the necessity of correctly presenting the facts pertinent to the extradition request in Attorney-General of the Federation v Olayinka Johnson (AKA Big Brother, AKA Rafiu Kofoworola, (AKA Gbolahan Opeyemi Akinola. The Evidence Act governs how these facts are presented.

  • Federal High Court Act, 1973

The Federal High Court Act of 1973 governs the Federal High Court’s exercise of powers and general administration. The Act gives the country’s Federal High Courts sole power over extradition.  This is in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.  The Federal High Court Act contains various laws that are typically applicable to the Federal High Court and, as a result, are relevant to Federal High Court actions, including extradition proceedings.

  • Penal Laws

Nigerian criminal law doctrine is pluralistic in the sense that, in addition to federal legislation, state and local governments establish their own. Criminal laws enacted by the Federal Government are applicable across Nigeria’s federation, whereas laws enacted by a State or Local Government are territorially confined to the State or Local Government in which the law is enacted. Some of the penal laws applicable to extradition in Nigeria are Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, Armed Robbery and Fire Arms the (Special Provisions) Act Nos. 5 and 28 of 1986, Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991, Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act 1989, Corrupt Practices Act and Other Related Offences Act 2000, Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act 2015. , Failed Banks (Recovery of Debt and Financial Malpractices in Banks) Act 1994, Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, Miscellaneous Offences Act 1984, The Administrative Procedure Act (ACJA) of 2015 governs criminal procedure in federal courts, including the Federal High Court.

In the context of extradition, the ACJA is mainly relevant to procedural processes related to pre-and post-proceedings steps that are not covered by the Extradition Act or the Federal High Court (Extradition Proceedings) Rules.

The ACJA, for example, contains safeguard measures that apply to all individuals who are denied their liberty as a result of criminal allegations, processes, or sanctions. One of these provisions pertains to anyone detained pending extradition who will be included in the Administration of Justice Monitoring Committee’s monitoring activities.

Extradition Treaties Relevant to Nigeria

Extradition treaties that are directly applicable to Nigeria’s territory are divided into two time periods. On the one hand, the British colonial authority entered into pre-independence accords. On the other hand, Nigeria, as a sovereign, has entered into post-independence treaties. The validity of pre-independence treaties to Nigeria stems from a treaty devolution agreement between Nigeria and the United Kingdom. The regions formerly known as the British Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria gained sovereign independence as the Federation of Nigeria on October 1, 1960.

As pertaining to extradition treaties in West Africa, on August 6, 1994, the sixteen ECOWAS  nations signed the Economic Community of West African States Convention on Extradition in Abuja, Nigeria. Around ten years ago, on December 10, 1984, Nigeria signed the Extradition Treaty involving the People’s Republic of Benin, the Republic of Ghana, and the Republic of Togo.

Grounds by Which Extraditable Offences Can Lack Locus Standi in Nigeria

It is quite worthy of note that It is not enough to show that the alleged fugitive has committed an offence; it must be shown that the alleged offence is an extraditable offence. Extradition treaties normally expressly identify the extraditable crimes. Where the extradition request is ostensibly made in respect of an extradition crime but is in practice intended to prosecute or punish the fugitive due to the fugitive’s race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs, the request will be denied.

According to the ruling in George Udeozor v. Federal Republic of Nigeria, extraditable crimes must be those that are generally acknowledged as malum in se, or crimes that are criminal by nature, rather than acts that are malum prohibitum, or crimes made illegal by statute.

The Extradition Act prohibits extradition for offenses that are not extraditable in two ways: first, the Attorney General must decline requests for extradition when the alleged offense is not extraditable; second, the judiciary plays a role in this process by requiring the Court to deny requests for extradition made by the Attorney General in the event that the Attorney General requests extradition for offenses that are not extraditable.

Political offenses cannot be transferred abroad. Political offenses can be classified as either “relative political offenses” or pure political offenses. The activities or behaviors that are designed against a government or sovereign entity are considered pure political offenses. governmental authorities devoid of features of typical criminality. These offenses contravene the Government, not any specific individual. Such offenses include, for example, treason, espionage, sedition, and a major disagreement with the philosophy of the state ideology.  This category’s offenses are typically not extraditable. The close friend Political offenses comprise a regular crime carried out in conjunction with a political move.

Transfer of Prisoners Procedure

Whether or not two States have an extradition treaty in force, they may nevertheless sign an international agreement that sends criminal defendants found guilty and sends them back to their home countries to complete their sentences.

The Scheme for the Transfer of Convicted Offenders within the Commonwealth, which is available to all Commonwealth nations who agree to utilize it as a basis for the transfer of condemned offenders, illustrates the possibility of multilateral procedures for these arrangements. Nigeria is a party to this agreement. As demonstrated by the 2014 agreement between Nigeria and the United Kingdom for the transfer of inmates, the prisoner transfer process may also be bilateral.

The Role of Interpol in Extradition

International wanted fugitives have been apprehended in large part thanks to Interpol, an international police body that prevents crime. Working with Interpol is necessary because extradition requires apprehending people who may be difficult for the local police of the state where their arrest is sought to identify. In fact, one of Interpol’s main responsibilities is to guarantee and encourage the greatest amount of mutual aid between all national police agencies while staying within the bounds of local laws in each respective nation.

International arrest warrants are issued by Interpol via its alert system to apprehend fugitive criminals on behalf of a State that makes the request. Interpol Notices are global appeals for assistance or warnings that enable law enforcement agencies in participating nations to exchange vital data pertaining to criminal activity. The Warning Red shows that the individuals in question are wanted by national jurisdictions for criminal charges or to fulfill a court order or arrest warrant-related penalty. After fleeing from the United States of America to China, the fugitive in The Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Mr. Olugbeniga Adebisi’s case was apprehended by Interpol while traveling to Nigeria.

Conclusion

Extradition is subject to numerous laws and statutory provisions as a legal component. The laws that govern it frequently contradict the domestic laws of the state making the request, the state that the request is made against, and in certain situations, they may conflict with the rules of international law.

The extradition procedure typically results in contentious legal disputes, which makes sense given that those targeted by extradition requests typically don’t back down from a struggle or from trying to take advantage of legal loopholes.

It is for this reason that it is advised that the extradition laws be examined in order to close any gaps in their application and provide a thorough, current, and comprehensive law pertaining to the topic.

Criminals who flee from one state where they committed a crime to another in the hopes that punishment will be distant from them will be let down.

It is hoped that this article will prompt readers to ask questions about the topic and the necessity of a reform process in order to make the current statutory requirements stronger.

Written by Adeolu Onifade

Bio

Adeolu Onifade is a Graduate of law from Ekiti state University Ado-Ekiti. He is a prolific legal writer with Articles in international law and Constitutional law. He is a member of the Vanguard Africa.

Contact: onifadeadeolu121@gmail.com
07062111889.

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