The Supreme Court has granted the request for the extradition of a Nigeria, Princewill Ugonna Anuebunwa wanted in the United States for his alleged complicity in some criminal activities.
The extradition request was made by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami though the Central Authority Unit (CAU) of the Federal Ministry of Justice, headed by Akutah Pius Ukeyima.
A five-member panel of the Supreme Court, in a judgment on Wednesday, allowed the appeal by the AGF, restored the June 1,2020 judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja and set aside the November 6, 2020 judgment by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
The Court of Appeal had, in its judgment in the appeal marked: CA/A/CV/387/2020 filed by Anuebunwa reversed the Federal High Court judgment, which granted the AGF’s request to surrender Anuebunwa for trial in the US on a pending two-count charge of “conspiracy to commit wire fraud; wire fraud, and aiding and abetting.”
The Court of Appeal also ordered a retrial at the Federal High Court, a decision the AGF appealed to the Supreme Court, with Anuebunwa filing a cross-appeal to challenge the order for retrial and prayed that he should be set free.
Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, in the lead judgment of the Supreme Court, which Justice Tijani Abubakar read on Wednesday, faulted the Court of Appeal’s judgment and proceeded to set it aside.
Justice Ogunwumiju upheld the judgment by Justice Ekwo (of the Federal High Court) that the AGF supplied sufficient materials, as required under the Extradition Act, to warrant the grant of the extradition request.
She allowed the appeal by the AGF and dismissed the cross-appeal by Anuebunwa on the grounds that it was without merit.
Other members of the panel – Justices Musa Dattijo Mohammed, Centus Nweze, Abubakar and Emmanuel Agim – agreed with the lead judgment.
Anuebunwa had, in his defence at the Federal High Court, denied committing the offences for which he was to be extradited and claimed to be in the business of wine supply since he graduated from the Ogun State University.
He also denied knowing his alleged co-conspirators, except Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa, who he admitted being his brother, who once travelled to the US.
The judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on April 13, 2022 came about three years after Anuebunwa’s brother, Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa was convicted and sentenced to one year jail term by Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court, Ikeja, Lagos State.
Chibundu was found guilty on a two-count charge of conspiracy to steal and retaining stolen property, contrary to Sections 411 and 328(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
Justice Dada, in her judgment in January 2020 said: “The defendant must forfeit the sum of N29.220 million found in his procession to the Federal Government of Nigeria, and because the defendant did not waste the time of the court and also being a first time offender, he is hereby sentenced to one-year imprisonment or an option of fine of N1.5 million.”