Attorney-General Abubakar Malami has prayed the Federal High Court to grant approval for immediate extradition of police chief Abba Kyari to the United States.
Mr Kyari was indicted by the FBI last year on allegations of conniving with international fraudster Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas to defraud a Qatari businessman of millions of dollars. Hushpuppi was extradited to the U.S. from Dubai in 2020.
Mr Kyari initially denied the charges, but he was subsequently suspended by the police and a police probe panel confirmed his guilt.
As the case was underway, Mr Kyari was separately indicted by Nigeria’s anti-narcotics office NDLEA for stealing bags of cocaine. He has been in the custody of the NDLEA for more than two weeks and is expected to be there until trial.
Mr Malami said Mr Kyari should be extradited to face trial in the U.S. because his case there was solid and not politically or religiously motivated.
In the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/249/2022 and filed directly with the Chief Judge of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court and first reported by Vanguard, the attorney-general said it was the U.S. Embassy in Abuja that submitted the request for Mr Kyari to be handed over for onward transfer to the FBI. It was not immediately clear if dates have been assigned for hearing on the request or how soon it would be granted.
The AGF also expressed satisfaction that the request for the surrender of Kyari 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.
He said 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”.
The AGF said having regard to all the circumstances in which the offence was committed, it will not be unjust or oppressive, or be too severe a punishment, to surrender him.
Malami said he was also satisfied that Kyari has been accused of the offence for which his surrender is sought.
He noted that there was no criminal proceeding pending against Kyari in Nigeria for the same offence.
Recall that in April 2021, a jury filed an indictment against Kyari with the approval of the U.S. District Court and demanded Kyari stand trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft.
Consequently, the US Embassy requested for Kyari’s extradition saying, “On April 29, 2021, based on the indictment filed by the grand jury and with the approval of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, a deputy clerk of the court issued a warrant of arrest for Kyari.
“The arrest warrant remains valid and executable to apprehend Kyari for the crimes with which he is charged in the indictment.
“Kyari is wanted to stand trial in the United States for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and identity theft.
“Kyari is the subject of an indictment in case Number 2:21-cr-00203 (also referred to as 2:21-MJ-00760 and 2:21-CR-00203-RGK), filed April 29, 2021, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.”
Kyari was accused of conspiring with a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Nigerian, Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi to commit the crime.
The charges against Kyari reads, “Count one: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years;
“Count two: Conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 1956(h), carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
“Count three: Aggravated identity theft, and aiding and abetting that offence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2(a), carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of two years.