Nigerian court rejects request to extradite top cop to US

The senior police officer has been linked to high-profile scandals within Nigeria and also in the US in recent times.

A lawyer walks through the compound at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi district in Lagos, Nigeria
A lawyer walks through the compound at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi district in Lagos, Nigeria, May 8, 2018. [Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters]

A Nigerian court has rejected a request to extradite a suspended police officer to the United States after he was implicated by a social media celebrity in a fraud case.

Deputy police commissioner Abba Kyari was suspended after he was implicated in the case of Nigerian social media influencer Ramon Abbas, known as Hushpuppi, who pleaded guilty to money laundering and other crimes in the United States.

On Monday, a federal court sitting in Abuja dismissed an extradition request filed by Nigeria’s Attorney-General Abubakar Malami after Kyari’s indictment in the US.

Judge Inyang Ekwo dismissed the application on Monday, calling it “strange, incompetent and bereft of merit”.

Ekwo said that as the country’s chief law officer, Malami “ought to be aware that the Extradition Act forbids the surrendering of a defendant that is already facing trial before a competent court in the country”.

Kyari has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

But in February, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), arrested him for cocaine smuggling and belonging to an international drug syndicate. So he is standing trial in Nigeria for an alleged link with drug barons.

The FBI said last year that Hushpuppi’s crimes cost his victims almost $24m in total.

According to the FBI, citing court documents, Hushpuppi confessed to paying Kyari a bribe for the arrest of a former associate.

Kyari has denied the charges.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies