Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the federal government cannot extradite Sunday Adeyemo, a Yoruba youth better know as Sunday Igboho, from Benin Republic without due process.
Igboho was declared wanted by the Department of State Services (DSS) early in July after his Ibadan house was raided by the operatives of the security agency.
He was arrested at Cotonou Airport with his wife on while on their way to Germany on Monday, and he’s currently been held by security operatives in the country.
In a statement on Thursday, Falana said the request by Nigeria to extradite Igboho must be supported by a statement of offences.
“Contrary to speculations in the media, it is submitted that Igboho cannot be expelled from Benin and deported to Nigeria on the basis of his arrest by Interpol without due process as prescribed by Article 12(4) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which provides that ‘A non-national legally admitted in a territory of a State Party to the present Charter, may only be expelled from it by virtue of a decision taken in accordance with the law,’” he said.
“Thus, the Federal Government cannot bring back Igboho to the country without first making a request for his extradition and prosecution in Nigeria pursuant to the provisions of the ECOWAS Convention A/P.1/8/94 on Extradition, which is applicable in the 15 member states of the ECOWAS.
“It is pertinent to note that the 1994 ECOWAS Convention has superseded the 1984 Extradition Treaty between Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Ghana pursuant to Article 32 of the ECOWAS Convention on Extradition.
“Accordingly, upon the receipt of a request for the extradition of Igboho, the Government of Benin Republic will be under a legal obligation to commence extradition proceedings in one of its domestic courts. It is pertinent to point out that by virtue of Article 28 (2) of the ECOWAS Convention on Extradition, the procedure with regard to extradition and provisional arrest are governed solely by the law of the requested State, i.e. Benin Republic.
“Apart from providing for a speedy extradition procedure, the government of Benin Republic shall ensure that Igboho, whose extradition is requested, has the right to be heard by a judicial authority and to be assisted by the lawyer of his own choice. Nigeria is specifically requested by Article 4 of the ECOWAS Convention on Extradition to convince the Court in Cotonou that the offence in respect of which Igboho is wanted is not political or for the purpose of prosecuting him on account of his ethnic group or political opinion. Various provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is also a party, apply as well. As noted, if the person is lawfully within the territory of the rendering State, extradition requires due process.”
Falana said extraordinary rendition frustrates the requirements of the African Charter and the covenant that anyone who is arrested or detained should have a right to challenge the validity of his or her detention.
He said the seizure and rendition of suspects may be characterised as a “forced disappearance” under international human rights law, by which an individual is abducted by persons acting on behalf of or with the acquiescence of the state, followed by a denial of information or other forms of accountability by state authorities.
He added that from the information at his disposal, Tukur Buratai, the new ambassador of Nigeria to Benin Republic, has submitted an application for the deportation of Igboho to Nigeria.
“With respect, the request cannot be granted as it has to comply with Article 18 of the Extradition Convention. It is not sufficient to state that Igboho is wanted for terrorism and murder,” he said.
“The request must be supported by a statement of the offences for which extradition is requested, the time and place of their commission; their legal descriptions; and a reference to the relevant legal provision shall be set out as accurately as possible; and an authenticated copy of the relevant law indicating the sentence which may be or has been imposed for the offence. To that extent, the Republic of Benin has not received a proper request from the Federal Government for the extradition of Igboho.”
He added that the provision for Benin Republic to detain Igboho will be terminated within a period of 20 days if the country has not received an extradition request from Nigeria in accordance with article 15 of the ECOWAS extradition convention.
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