Criminal Law

Procedure For Extraditing Fugitive In Nigeria

What Is Extradition?

The surrender by one state or country to another of an individual accused or convicted of an offence outside its own territory and within the territorial jurisdiction of the other being competent to try and punish him, demands the surrender

The court has defined Extradition to mean a cooperative legal process of one state called the surrendering state or authority which surrenders an individual to another state called the requesting state for prosecution or punishment for crimes committed within the requesting country’s jurisdiction.

The extradition process is usually spelt out in bilateral or multilateral extradition treaties or agreements. Extradition becomes necessary when a criminal fugitive flees from one country to another to avoid facing trial or punishment. Persons who may be extradited include those who have been tried and convicted but escaped custody by fleeing the country, and those convicted in absentia- a trial in which the accused person is not physically present. Extradition is distinguished from other methods of forcibly removing undesirable persons from a country, such as an exile, expulsion and deportation.

Extradition procedures are usually determined by the terms of treaties between individual countries or by multilateral agreements between groups of countries such as the Common Wealth countries or the countries of the European Union. The receiving government then refers to its laws and its treaty-specified obligations to the requesting nation and decides whether or not to extradite the person named in the warrant. Treaties signed in recent decades tend to take a “dual criminality” approach, classifying as extraditable all crimes that are punishable in both jurisdictions. Older extradition treaties, by contrast, tend to list covered offenses.”

The laws governing extradition in Nigeria

  1. The Extradition Act 1967
  2. Extradition Act (MODIFICATION) Order, 2014
  3. Federal High Court (EXTRADITION PROCEEDINGS) Rules, 2015
  4. Extradition (AMENDMENT) Act 2018

Who Is A Fugitive?

The Extradition act defines a fugitive as any person accused of an extradition offence committed within the jurisdiction of a country other than Nigeria or any person, who, having been convicted of an extradition offence in a country other than Nigeria, is unlawfully at large before the expiration of a sentence imposed on him for that offence.

Can Any Fugitive Be Extradited From Nigeria? If Not, What Are The Grounds For Refusal Of Extradition In Nigeria  

The act specifies certain conditions that if the Attorney General or Trial court considers will lead to a refusal:

  1. If the offence is of a political character
  2. If the offence he is being sought to be extradited is on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion or was not otherwise made in good faith or interest of justice
  3. The severity of the offence: if the offence is trivial or the passage of time
  4. He has been convicted or acquitted of the said offence
  5. If there is a pending criminal proceeding against him
  6.  Who has been charged for an offence other than that for which he is been sought or serving sentence imposed by any court in Nigeria
  7. When there is a provision in the law of that country that he will not be surrendered on another offence other than any extradition office which may be proved by the facts on which his surrender is granted

The Court Vested With The Jurisdiction   

Federal High Court of Nigeria

Procedure For Extradition In Nigeria

The diplomatic representative of a consular officer of that country will make an application for the surrender of a fugitive criminal of any country in writing to the Attorney General of the Federation which is accompanied by a duly authenticated warrant of arrest or certificate of conviction issued by that country

When the request has been made by him, the Attorney General of the Federation  will make an application to the Judge that such a request has been made and apply to the judge to deal in accordance with the provisions of the act and shall not make such order if he decides on the basis of information then available to him that the surrender of the fugitive is precluded by any of the provisions specified in sections 3 (1) to (7)

The Attorney General of the Federation has the discretion to refuse an application under this section in respect of any fugitive criminal who is a citizen of Nigeria

Warrant Of Arrest

Upon receipt by the judge of the application by the Attorney General of the Federation, issue a warrant of arrest of a fugitive criminal who may be accused of or unlawfully at large after conviction of an extradition offence

Provisional Warrant Of Arrest, When It Can Be Issued

It can be issued in any of the following circumstances without any application by the attorney general of the federation if the attorney general is satisfied that

  1. If any information and evidence produced would  in the opinion of the magistrate justify the issue of a warrant for the arrest of the fugitive if the offence has been committed in the judicial division in which the judge has jurisdiction or the fugitive had been convicted of the offence
  2. A person who is suspected of being on his way to Nigeria

When the warrant of arrest is issued under this section, the Judge shall send to the AGF a report of the fact with the information and evidence on which he acted or certified copies thereof and on receipt of the report of the AGF, may if he deems it fit order the warrant be cancelled and the fugitive criminal if arrested be released

After an application for extradition is filed, the court will determine whether the offence is an extraditable offence and there is no bar to the extradition order in accordance with section 3 of the Act

What the court will consider in the hearing of an application for extradition

There are certain factors the court will consider when an application for extradition is brought before it:

-If the offence specified in the application for extradition is an extraditable offence

– If there is a bar by the provision of section 3 of the Act

РIf the extradition would be compatible with the fugitive’s human right

-If it would be unjust or to severe punishment to the fugitive

Reference.

Case Laws

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION v ANUEBUNWA (2022) LPELR- 57750 SC

Statutory Authorities

ORDER 6 FEDERAL HIGH COURT (EXTRADITION PROCEEDINGS) RULES, 2015

ORDER 8 FEDERAL HIGH COURT (EXTRADITION PROCEEDINGS) RULES, 2015

Section 3 EXTRADITION ACT 1967

Section 8 EXTRADITION ACT 1967

Section 6 EXTRADITION ACT 1967

Section 9 EXTRADITION ACT 1967

Section 21 EXTRADITION ACT 1967

Section 251 (1) I and (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999

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About Joshua Owie

Joshua Owie is a legal practitioner with 5 years post call experience in litigation, He currently is an associate of legal assent, a full service law firm with practise that spans across: Election petition, Human rights law, Commercial Law, Arbitration and dispute resolution, Labour law etc Joshua holds a masters' degree in Investment law from Nasarawa state university, A bachelor of Laws from the Nigerian law school and a LL.b from Igbinedion University okada, Edo state