From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Nigerian government has commenced extradition proceedings against a Colombian national, Alexander Bedoya-Guevara (aka Hell Boy), who is wanted by the United States of America (USA), for drug-related offences.
In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/173/2022, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice(AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) has requested the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho to grant the application in accordance with the provisions of the Extradition Act, Cap. E25, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The request, which was brought pursuance to the Extradition Act, followed a request to Nigeria by a diplomatic representative of the Embassy of the United States of America, Abuja, for the “surrender of Alexander Bedoya-Guevara, who is a subject in a superseding one- count indictment and charged in case no.S1 21 Cr. 715 filed on November 18, 2021, within the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, United States of America.
The 32 year old Colombian, is specifically charged with the offence of ” Conspiracy to import narcotics in violation of Title 18, United States Code (USC) Sections 963, 952 (a), 960 (a) (1), 959(a), and 960(a) (3)”.
When the matter came up in court, Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, threatened to foreclose the respondent and grant the application, if they are not prepared to ready with their defence.
Counsel to the Federal Government and Head, Central Authority Unit and International Corporation Department, Federal Ministry of Justice, Pius Akutah Ukeyima, expressed worry over the altitude of counsel to the respondent in trying to frustrate the case.
His frustration was predicated by an application by a new counsel, E.C Attama, who announced appearance for the respondent.
She told the court that “we have just been briefed and we need time to acquit ourselves with the case. As a result, we are yet to file any process.”
But Akutah who was surprised by the development, informed the court that he just received some processes few hours ago, from the counsel on record.
Earlier, Akutah informed the court that all necessary papers have been filed and served on the defendant in line with the directives of the court.
Responding, Justice Nyako noted that the case was time-bound and threatened to grant the application if the respondent was not ready with his case.
While adjourning the matter to April 28, the judge directed counsel to the respondent to file and serve the necessary processes.
Meanwhile, the punishment for the offence as contained in the Superseding Indictment carries a sentence of not less than 10 years or more than life as contained in the US laws.
The offence is an extraditable one under Article 3, item 24 of the Extradition Treaty between the US and Great Britain, signed at London, on December 22, 1931, and recognized as binding on the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In addition, the offence is also covered by Articles 1,2 and 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, adopted December 20, 1988 (“The UN Drug Convention”) to which the United States and Nigeria are parties.
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