By Onikepo Braithwaite
‘Bring Back Diezani’
As usual, I was watching the news the other day, and saw that the ‘Resume or Resign’ People (Ourmumudondo) have metamorphosed into ‘Bring Back Diezani’ (BBD). A Government functionary, in responding to their demand, explained there was certain protocol to be followed, before she can be brought back. I must say that, Mrs Alison- Madueke is extremely lucky that we are in a democratic dispensation. If it was in 1984, we would simply have abducted her outside Waitrose or Marks & Spencer, forced her into a moving vehicle, drugged her, shoved her limp body into a crate as diplomatic cargo, and she would have found herself in Lagos or Abuja by the time she regained consciousness! Unlike the late Umaru Dikko, over 30 years later, when even little roadside criminals are successfully kidnapping people left, right and centre, there would have been no mistakes.
The Adventures of Umaru Dikko
Of course we all remember the story of late Alhaji Umaru Dikko, Transport Minister in the Shagari regime, who escaped to London for shelter after the military coup of December 31, 1983. He was accused of embezzling $1 billion of government money. Consequent upon an elaborate covert operation allegedly involving the Israelis, Alhaji Dikko was finally traced to his new ‘crib’ in London, and one day when he was on “walkies” (enjoying the London fresh air), he was thrown into a van, purportedly drugged by one Dr Shapiro, crated as diplomatic cargo and taken to Stansted Airport, where a jet was fuelled and waiting to convey him to Nigeria to face the music. They were kind and humane enough, to put Dr Shapiro and his medical equipment into the same crate as Alhaji Dikko, to ensure that he did not die during the journey to Nigeria. God so kind to Alhaji Dikko, the lady said to be his ‘Secretary’ witnessed the abduction from inside the house, and raised an alarm. Luckily, the crate was intercepted at the airport, and Alhaji Dikko was rescued.
Today, we have no choice but to follow due process. Therefore, we are left with no choice but to listen to Mrs Alison-Madueke insult the intelligence of Nigerians from London, claiming that she was/is not corrupt, and did not illegally enrich herself with Nigeria’s money, but only collected her salary at the end of every month (I would imagine). Tah!! (As my Ikwere friend said, when I commented that I had heard that someone that he accused of being corrupt, was a ‘serious born again Christian’!).
So since we can’t cargo Mrs Alison-Madueke, we can try to extradite her. Extradition is simply “the official surrender of an alleged criminal by one State or Country to another having jurisdiction over the crime charged;…”. A formal request made by one country (the requesting country) to another (the requested country), to return a person accused of committing a crime to be able to stand trial in the requesting country, or, having been convicted, to return to serve a sentence.
The Extradition Act 2010 enables Nigeria to enter into extradition treaties/agreements with other countries, and the country is a signatory to several extradition treaties for example, with South Africa, and more recently, with United Arab Emirates. Aside from the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, other laws governing extradition include the Immigration Act 2010, Evidence Act 2010 and Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015. There is also the requirement of dual criminality, that is, the crime allegedly committed by the person in the requesting country, must also be a crime in the requested country.
With regard to the United Kingdom, by virtue of Part 2 of its Extradition Act, 2003, Nigeria falls into the Category 2 Type B Territory with several other African, Asian, South American and Arab Countries. Requests from these countries require decisions by both the Secretary of State and the Courts. I will not bother to reel out the extradition process, as it is there for all to see on the British Government website (www.gov.uk). But my question is, has Nigeria begun the extradition process in respect of Mrs Alison-Madueke? Has Nigeria made the extradition request to the UK Secretary of State? What is the status of the request? If not, why? Suffice it to say, it is a process that does not have to last more than about 2 months or so, even if there is an appeal of the Judge’s decision, talk less of 2 years since the inception of this administration.
However, whether it is to send people over or bring them back home for prosecution, it seems that Nigeria’s extradition record is less than satisfactory, and our country has sometimes been adjudged as an “obstacle to anti-crime efforts”.
Some Obstacles to Extradition
This is not to say that there are no obstacles to extradition. Sometimes, though the crime that the person to be extradited meets the dual criminality criterion, if for instance, it is murder and it is punishable by death in the requesting country but not the requested country, the requested country will not grant the extradition request unless the requesting country gives a written undertaking that the accused person, will not face the death penalty if he/she is found guilty. Likewise, if there is the likelihood that the accused person may be tortured in the requesting country, the request for extradition will not be granted.
Also, countries are reluctant to extradite people for things of a political nature.
Some countries simply do not give up their citizens for extradition. For example, France, Brazil, Switzerland, China, and Russia, amongst several other countries, forbid the extradition of their citizens to another country. In this situation, these countries have laws that enable them to assume jurisdiction over the crimes committed by their citizens abroad, so they try them as if the alleged crime was committed in their home country, and not abroad.
Some suspects, escape to countries that do not have extradition treaties with the country which they are accused of committing the crime.
If the Former Minister has taken on the citizenship of another country, Nigerians, do not expect her back soon. Indeed, there is the allegation that in 2015, she acquired the citizenship of Dominica, a small Caribbean nation, probably via an economic citizenship program. The European Union grants Dominica a visa-free status.
Who knows whether it is because of her new citizenship, that Mrs Alison-Madueke has not been extradited to Nigeria? The citizenship of her new home country and its extradition arrangement with the UK, becomes relevant. It could very well be the reason for the rumours that, she may be tried in the UK for money laundering type crimes, instead of Nigeria. If this happens, and she is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in the UK, after serving her time, the citizenship of her new country will again come into play, so that if she is to be deported, she will be deported to Dominica, and not Nigeria. Looks like Nigeria may have been outsmarted!
And if she purchased the citizenship of her new home country for good money, she will be treated with kid gloves there. Nigeria’s mistake? Letting her travel out of the country, in the first place. You have all those various agencies at the airport, bullying and harassing well-meaning Nigerians, when they are travelling in and out of the country, disturbing them because they are taking Indomie Noodles and Gari to their relatives abroad, while the people that they should actually be looking out for, slip through the cracks. The consolation? Some of the huge recoveries made thus far, especially if they are used for the benefit of Nigerians. For example, EFCC claims to have recovered N409 billion, why can’t ASUU’s financial demands be met, so that our students can resume University and sit for their end of year examinations?
‘What a man can do, a woman can do better’!