- Ozekhome: No extradition can ever succeed on the false foundation of illegality
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Federal Government is unrelenting in the demand for the extradition of a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, who is being held by the International Police (Interpol) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Interpol, on November 11, arrested Adoke in Dubai, where he went to for medicals, based on the Red Notice issued by Nigeria.
However, about two weeks after his arrest, the Interpol is yet to extradite him as demanded by the Nigerian authorities.
It was learnt that the refusal to send Adoke home was as a result of holes in the documents submitted by Nigeria.
His arrest was connected to an earlier warrant of arrest placed on him by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) earlier in the year, which has since been vacated by the same court.
The trial judge, Justice Danlami Senchi had on October 25, vacated the order following an exparte application by Adoke’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, claiming that the court was misled in granting the warrant of arrest in the first instance.
Sources told THISDAY last night that the federal government “still stands by the documents sent to the UAE Government and Interpol, and is insisting that the former AGF be extradited on this basis.”
According to an online news medium monitored on Wednesday, to sidestep the vacated warrant of arrest, the federal government is looking at the option of activating the judicial agreements signed in October 2018 between Nigeria and UAE.
The report added that the agreements covered extradition and transfer of sentenced persons; mutual legal assistance on criminal matters; and mutual legal assistance on criminal and commercial matters.
“But the extradition option being advanced by EFCC, has to go through court processes in Dubai”, the online publication added.
Following the intervention of Adoke’s lawyers, Interpol was said to have demanded for a copy of the new order vacating his arrest warrant but the federal government refused to respond, insisting that it stands by the documents sent to it.
A source said Interpol was willing to release Adoke but requires that the vacated warrant be attested to by the AGF and officially transmitted to the organisation, to facilitate his release from custody.
The AGF, Abubakar Malami SAN, was said to have declined a similar request made by Adoke’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN.
The failure of the Nigerian authorities to send the attested order to Interpol appears to be playing into the hands of Adoke who has persistently claimed that he is a victim of “political witch-hunt”.
Adoke had continued to maintain that his planned arrest was politically motivated by the government.
Ozekhome told our Correspondent yesterday that he would continue to oppose Adoke’s extradition, which according to him is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
Ozekhome in addition, berated the government for failing to defend and protect its citizens abroad against external molestation and attacks.
Article 3 of Interpol’s constitution, forbids the organisation from undertaking any intervention or activities of a “political, military, religious or racial character”.
Adoke’s lawyers have since made representations to Interpol headquarters in France, citing the cases of Sambo Dasuki, the former national security adviser who has been in detention since 2015 despite court orders; Ibraheem El Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, who has also been detained since 2015; and Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters who is still being held despite a court order.
They argued that Adoke would be subjected to the same treatment if returned to Nigeria amidst reports of worsening human rights situation in the country.
Adoke’s lawyers previously petitioned the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), alleging that the Nigerian government had embarked on “unmitigated acts of persecution, intimidation, harassment, threat of deprivation of right to life, unlawful interference with right to family life and livelihood as well as filing of phantom criminal charges” against him.
The arrest by Interpol is only provisional and Adoke cannot be extradited without a court process.
According to Interpol, “The legal basis for a Red Notice is an arrest warrant or court order issued by the judicial authorities in the country concerned. Many of our member countries consider a Red Notice to be a valid request for provisional arrest”.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been making frantic efforts to ensure Adoke’s extradition to Nigeria since his arrest.
The anti-graft agency wants to put him on trial over allegations of abuse of office and money laundering in the OPL 245 deal of 2011.
It is also believed that Adoke’s extradition to Nigeria is nearly impossible, with two court Judgments in his favour.
The EFCC had approached the court for the order to enable it apprehend and prosecute Adoke over his alleged complicity in the Malabu Oil deal.
Adoke, who has been on self-exile since 2015, however claimed he was innocent of any wrongdoing and that the anti-graft agency was only planning to humiliate him through the trial.
Besides the order vacating the international warrant of his arrest, a court had also ruled previously that Adoke cannot be held liable for carrying out lawful presidential orders in the OPL 245 transaction for which EFCC wants to put him on trial.
Ozekhome, said the government has no reason not to cooperate towards the release of the former AGF.
“The Ministry of Justice which ought to defend and protect Nigerian citizens abroad against external molestation and attacks is obviously not cooperating. It has loudly, not silently, ignored the two letters I wrote to it, to officially inform the Interpol and UAE/Dubai authorities (its duty and function) that there was no legal basis or foundation for the arrest and detention of Bello Adoke, SAN, in Dubai, wherein he had gone to seek medical treatment.
“The reason is that we had contested the propriety of the warrant of arrest against Adoke,which Justice Senchi vacated after heated argument between me and government senior lawyers.
“No extradition can ever succeed on the false foundation of illegality and unconstitutionality. It will not work. We shall definitely legally oppose it strenuously and vigorously if such a step is contemplated or taken. It will be akin to late Umaru Dikko’s notched attempt at being created back into the country. We can’t allow history be made so cheap as to be repeated, even if different colouration or guise”, he said.