ABUJA, NIGERIA (REUTERS) – A Nigerian judge on Monday rejected a request by the federal government to extradite a suspended police chief to the United States to face charges linked to fraud.
Commissioner Abba Kyari has denied involvement in what a U.S. indictment describes as an elaborate scheme to defraud a Qatari businessperson of more than $1 million, masterminded by a Nigerian celebrity fraudster known as “Hushpuppi”.
Kyari has denied any wrongdoing.
He is in prison awaiting trial on separate charges of alleged criminal conspiracy, official corruption and tampering with exhibits after his arrest by the local drug enforcement agency in February.
On Monday, High Court Judge Inyang Ekwo said Kyari could not be extradited because of that trial in Nigeria and handing him over to the United States would breach the country’s extradition law.
“By that fact, it (the extradition request) is incompetent, it is equally bereft of merit and ought to be dismissed and I make an order dismissing this case,” Ekwo said in a ruling.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General Abubakar Malami could not be reached for comment.
Kyari was one of six people indicted over the alleged fraudulent scheme last year, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California.
Nigeria has long struggled to control the problem of financial scams, often perpetrated by email.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja, additional reporting by Ardo Hazzad in Bauchi, writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Editing by Alex Richardson)