Law News
Bribery Scandal : Court okays extradition of ex-Mint boss, Okoyomon, to UK for trial

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Monday, ordered the extradition of the former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Security, Minting and Printing Company, NSMPC, Mr. ‎Ehidiamhen Okoyomon to the United Kingdom to face corruptio‎n charges.

Justice Evoh Chukwu made the order sequel to an appli‎cation that was made before the high court by the federal government through the office of the

Ehidiamhen Okoyomon

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN.

The application was filed in line with provisions of Section 6(1) of the Extradition Act 2004 Cap E, R5 and in accordance with Section 215 (1) paragraph (i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

Adoke told the court that the ex-Mint boss was needed in the UK over his alleged role in a bribery scandal involving officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, ‎the NSMPC and Securency International Pty of Australia.

The crime was allegedly committed between 2006 and 2008.

The AGF had through a lawyer in his chambers, Mr. M.S Hassan, told the court that a District Court in the UK has already issued a warrant of arrest against ‎the accused person.

Hassan tendered several documents in exhibit, among which included an affidavit that was deposed to by one Tapan Debnah, a solicitor with the Serious Fraud Office, SFO, of England, which was sworn before a Westminster Magistrate Court.

The affidavit gave a summary of the allegations against the accused, the punishment prescribed for the offences and the jurisdiction of the court to try the matter.

The AGF also adduced the Certified True Copy of the charge, the warrant of arrest issued by a District Judge in the UK, an investigative report on oath deposed to by one Brenda Smith White before the Westminster Magistrate Court, a photograph of the accused person for easy identification, as well as a letter notifying the accused of his success in his application for British citizenship.

Hassan, told the court that ‎the UK government earlier notified the accused in advance of all the documents that will be used in his prosecution.

“My Lord that is an indication that he will be given a fair and transparent trial. ‎ ‎Moreover he is a British citizen and as it stands today, there is no charge pending against him in Nigeria to warrant his prosecution here. All the Nigerian government want is for him to go there and clear his name over the charges against him”, the AGF’s lawyer added.

‎Meantime, the court in its ruling yesterday, refused Okoyomon’s plea to be allowed to face his trial in Nigeria.

‎He had through his lawyer Dr. Alex Iziyon, SAN, begged the court not to okay the extradition request, saying he would rather prefer to answer to the charges here in Nigeria.

‎”My Lord, my client is prepared to face the music here. Firstly, he is a Nigerian citizen and wants to be tried according to the Nigerian law. We cannot guarantee that he would be given fair trial over there in the UK. Moreover, according to them, part of the offence was committed in Nigeria.

“You cannot just bundle any citizen from one country to another, it is a slight on our sovereignty. I urge your Lordship to dismiss this application intoto”, Iziyon pleaded.

Iziyon argued that the extradition treaty of 1931, which the AGF insisted became applicable in Nigeria in 1935‎ had since been repealed by Schedule 4 of Decree No 87 of 1966.

He further contended that ‘Exhibit B‎’ from the AGF, which is a copy of London Scheme for Extradition, was yet to be domesticated in Nigeria.

‎Justice Chukwu had earlier ordered that the accused person should be kept in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, pending the determination of the extradition case against him.

‎Ruling on the matter yesterday, Justice Chukwu noted that Okonyonmon did not make any attempt in any of his submissions to refute the allegations of bribery and corruption pending against him.

The court maintained that the accused person having not denied the allegations, it was therefore satisfied with all the documentary evidences placed before it by the Attorney General of the Federation.

Besides, the court held that the 1931 Extradition Treaty between United Kingdom and America became applicable to Nigeria in 1935, hence “it is an existing law based on the meaning of Section 12(1) of the 1999 Constitution”.

Justice Chukwu equally stressed that the London Scheme on Extradition has been domesticated by virtue of Section 12 of CFRN.

“Consequently, the respondent is hereby committed to prison for onward extradition to the United Kingdom, within 30 days of this order”, the court held.

Justice Chukwu said he would not ordinarily surrender any Nigerian “recklessly”, based on extradition treaties, he said Okoyomon ought to go to the UK to face trial since he is also a
British citizen.

Meanwhile, Okoyomon, yesterday, vowed to take the matter before the court of appeal, insisting that there was no legal basis for the high court judge to okay his extradition to the UK when he could as well answer to whatever charge against him in Nigeria.


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