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You will recall that a number of months ago, the legal battle between the Nigerian government and Senator Buruji Kashamu on the application by the United States to have Senator Buruji extradited to the U.S was well reported in the news.
The application was possible because Nigeria is a signatory to several extradition treaties with other countries. Examples of such countries are South Africa, Liberia, the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The enabling law that allows the country enter into such agreements is the Extradition Act, Chapter E25, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004. The Act also becomes applicable to any country that enters such an agreement with Nigeria.
The Black’s law dictionary, 10th Edition, defines Extradition as the official surrender of an alleged criminal by one state or country to another having jurisdiction over the crime charged; the return of a fugitive from justice, regardless of consent, by the authorities where the fugitive is found.
It’s however not every time an application for extradition is made that it is granted, for instance the United Kingdom refused to grant an extradition application to have James Ibori return to serve the rest of his prison sentence in Nigeria. Also, Nigeria can deny any of such applications on certain grounds which include, if the Attorney – General or a court is satisfied that;
1. The offence for which the fugitive is sought is of a political nature. Section 3(1).
2. The extradition application was made for the purpose of punishing or prosecuting the fugitive on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions or otherwise not made in the interest of justice or good faith, Section 3(2);
3. The nature of the offence is trivial, Section 3 (3)(a);
4. The passage of time since the commission of the crime Section 3(3)(b);
5. The fugitive criminal has been convicted or acquitted of that offence before;
6. Is charged with an offence which under Nigerian law is not an offence whereby his surrender is sought.
Such application for extradition by virtue of Section 6 is made by a diplomatic representative or consular officer of that country which is applying to the Attorney-General of Nigeria in writing also including with the application a duly authenticated warrant of arrest or certificate of conviction issued in that country. The Attorney – General will thus signify to a Magistrate to issue a warrant for the arrest of the fugitive criminal.