The Department of Justice of the United States of America has declined comments on the planned extradition of suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari.
The justice department, however, reiterated that Kyari is facing charges filed in 2021 which led to his indictment, adding that he would be offered legal representation in the US.
In an email to an inquiry sent by Sunday PUNCH, Thom Mrozek, the Director of media relations of the United States Attorney’s Office said, “We will not have any comment in relation to a pending extradition request for any defendant.
“In relation to Mr Kyari, he already faces charges that we filed last year in Los Angeles after a federal grand jury issued an indictment.
“I can tell you that all criminal defendants in the United States are entitled to legal representation.”
The PUNCH had reported that Kyari was suspended in July 2021 by the Inspector- General of Police, Usman Baba, for alleged involvement in a $1.1 million Internet fraud allegedly perpetrated by Hushpuppi and four others; AbdulRahman Juma (Abdul); Vincent Chibuzo (Kelly); Rukayat Fashola (Morayo); and Bolatito Agbabiaka (Bolamide).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had alleged that Hushpuppi paid $20,600 to two bank accounts allegedly provided by Kyari on January 20, 2020.
FBI Special Agent, Andrew Innocenti, said he obtained voice calls and WhatsApp conversations between Kyari and Hushpuppi, adding that Hushpuppi also paid the police officer N8m or $20,600 for the arrest and detention of a “co-conspirator,” Chibuzo Vincent.
The US court had ordered the FBI to arrest Kyari.
The PUNCH had also reported how the suspended DCP had been detained by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency since February 14,2022 for attempting to sell 25kg of cocaine which was seized from some drug dealers.
The NDLEA had also accused him of being a drug kingpin.
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, in a statement by his Media Aide, Umar Gwandu, last week stated that the Nigerian government was willing to extradite Kyari to the United States where he has been indicted for his role in an international fraud involving Hushpuppi.
The NDLEA revealed that it had filed eight counts against Kyari before a Federal High Court on Monday and that Kyari would be arraigned on March 7.
But some Senior Advocate of Nigeria in separate interviews with Sunday PUNCH argued that since the US had already concluded its investigations and charges had been filed, the final decision to extradite the embattled cop lies on the court.
In an interview with our correspondent, Mr Ebunolu Adegboruwa,SAN, said, “Seeing what Hushpuppi himself has gone through in the United States of America, he has confessed to the crimes and he has pleaded for a plea bargain.
“Documents have been admitted so it would be easier to conduct the prosecution of Abba Kyari since investigations in that case has already been concluded . It’s better in law that he should go and face the charges against him in US so he can exonerate himself.
“The final decision on the extradition, however, depends on the judge. The AGF has submitted the request and the NDLEA has also filed the charges”.
Another SAN, Chief Mike Ozekhome in a separate interview with Sunday PUNCH argued that Abba Kyari is still presumed innocent until proven guilty, hence the court will have the final decision.
He said, “The issue as to whether or not the court will refuse the extradition of Abba Kyari seeing as he is undergoing a case in Nigeria has been laid to rest in section 9 of the Extradition Act, which states that:
“Hearing of a case by magistrate and committal or discharge of prisoner, when a fugitive criminal is brought before a magistrate on a warrant under section 7 of this Act, or when, in the case of a fugitive criminal brought before a magistrate on a provisional warrant under section 8 of this Act and remanded in pursuance of subsection (5) of the said section 8, an order of the Attorney-General under section 6 of this Act relating to that fugitive is received, the magistrate shall proceed with the case as in the same manner, as near as may be, and shall have the same jurisdiction and powers, as if the fugitive were brought before him charged with an offence committed within his jurisdiction.
“It is important to also say that while the matter is going on in court, the alleged criminal is assumed innocent until proven guilty as contained in section 36 (5) which is stated thus:
(5) Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty:
Provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes such person the burden of providing particular facts.
“Even when the Federal High Court gives its judgment against Abba Kyari, he is entitled to appeal such a matter at the Court of Appeal and even further appeal same at the Supreme Court”.
Also, another SAN, Yomi Aliyu said, “The duty of the AGF is to file an application for extradition in court. The defendant which in this case is Abba Kyari can raise a defence and when these have been done, the final decision lies with the judge. The judge has a discretion to determine whether or not the purported trial is fluke.”