Lanre Adewole, Abuja
Monday, July 20, 2009
THE Federal Government is said to have formally applied to the United States of America for the extradition of former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, in order to face trial in Nigeria for alleged fraud while in office.
An eight-count charge of criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, misappropriation of N32 billion and allocation of land to associates and family members slammed on the former minister and two associates by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had also been pasted on his Abuja residence, as ordered by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The EFCC’s spokesperson, Mr Femi Babafemi, confirmed the pasting of the charge. The house is located at No. 12 Mambila Street, Maitama, Abuja.
Nigerian Tribune gathered from a source that the commission routed its extradition request through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mike Aondoaaka (SAN), who in turn reportedly forwarded the request to the relevant authorities in the United States under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries.
The commission’s request was received in the minister’s office penultimate Thursday. It could not be confirmed at the time of filing the report if the United States had communicated the Federal Government over the request.
An International Treaty between Nigeria and United States of America empowers the anti-graft commission to extradite the embattled former minister using the instrumentality of the Nigerian government.
The treaty entitled “TREATY BETWEEN THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS” was signed at Washington on November 2, 1987.
The introductory part states that “the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the government of the United States of America, hereinafter called the “Contracting Parties”.
The provision of the Treaty which deals with deportation of nationals of the two contracting parties when such is required is under Article XVIII entitled “Information on Crimes, Arrests, Convictions, and Deportations”
Meanwhile, following the commission’s inability to serve the charge on el-Rufai who is resident in the US, the commission asked the trial court for an order to have the charge pasted on his residence.
Justice Adamu Bello last Thursday granted the request, though he said he believed that the former minister was aware of the charge which made him to engage the services of the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi SAN.
When the matter came up on July 8, former General Manager of Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) Altine Jubrin and former Director General Ismaila Iro who were also charged with the former minister were present.
The judge fixed October 14 for el-Rufai’s plea. The commission had declared el-Rufai wanted over the alleged fraud. Nigerian Tribune gathered that el-Rufai has many petitions against him which the commission had been investigating, with a petition from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) said to be receiving top priority from the commission.
Documents secured by the Nigerian Tribune had revealed an alleged conversion of 13 plots of land originally allocated in the Abuja Master Plan to the PHCN, for his family use, despite warnings from top civil servants in the ministry and construction giants, Julius Berger, which was reportedly given the contract to convert the plots for private use.
The plots located in Asokoro Area D were allegedly distributed among himself, his wife and children.