Looted funds: FG seeks extradition of 311 powerful Nigerians

  • As India bus plunge leaves 21 pilgrims dead

In its bid to stem the tide of criminally-minded Nigerians from hibernating in foreign lands after committing heinous crimes in the country, the Federal Government has sought the repatriation of no fewer than 311 of such suspects from their hideouts across the world.

The government has not, however, revealed the identities of the suspects, the amount looted by them and where they are taking refuge at the moment. But while that remains, the government has also received 636 extradition requests from foreign governments to assist them in dealing with such elements, who fled their lands after committing serious offences.

The suspects are wanted in their home countries to answer to alleged crimes perpetuated by them before they fled such countries to seek safe haven in Nigeria. Of the number received, the federal government has forwarded a total of 503 requests to competent authorities for execution.

The information was contained in a document made available to Vanguard from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on the achievements of the Buhari administration in the Justice sector since coming to power two years ago.

The development is covered under the Mutual Legal Assistance, MLA, signed between Nigeria and six nations, with a view to repatriating looted funds and prosecuting the masterminds of such crime by the countries involved so as to reduce the incidence of graft.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, confirmed to Vanguard that the ministry of Justice received a total of 5658 criminal cases in the last two years of the administration out of which 100 cases were successfully concluded.

Malami disclosed that included in the 100 decided matters were terrorism cases, while 2000 other criminal cases received from the Nigeria Police for prosecution in the Magistrate Court were pending due to logistics challenges. The minister revealed that within the period under review, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other related offences, NAPTIP, has successfully arrested and prosecuted no fewer than 41 human traffickers and rescued a total of 1484 victims of human trafficking.

In a similar vein, the minister disclosed that the Nigerian Copyright Commission recorded a monumental achievement within the past two years with a market value seizure of pirated works of N2.1 billion.

The commission also made 201 arrests, convicted three persons and seized a total of eight containers of pirated books and two containers of pirated Compact Discs and Digital Video Discs.

“As a result of the commission’s robust enforcement and prosecutorial activities and Nigeria’s active participation in World Intellectual Property Organisation, WIPO, the country secured the establishment of an external office of WIPO in Nigeria,” the minister said.

“Nigeria remains delisted from the United States 301 list of countries that are not seriously addressing copyright piracy and other Intellectual Property crimes,” he said.

In the meantime, at least 21 pilgrims have died and seven are injured after a bus they were travelling in fell into a gorge in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.

The accident took place in Dharasu town on Tuesday evening, when the driver lost control over the bus.

The state’s chief minister, Trivendra Rawat, said the injured were receiving treatment at a local hospital.

The state is popular with religious tourists, attracting hundreds of thousands every year.

The victims, who were from the central state of Madhya Pradesh, were returning from Gangotri.

A senior official told the BBC that that 17 bodies had been recovered from the river.

“Rescue teams are trying to find the remaining bodies,” he said.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted that the the news was “painful”.

He has announced plans to give 200,000 rupees (£2,377; $3,082) compensation to the families of the 21 victims.

Vanguard with additional report from BBC