Court Extradites fugitive over $789,907.62 Fraud

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Monday January 30th ,  2012, delivered ruling on an extradition charge filed by  the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke against Rasheed Abayomi Mustapha. Delivering judgment, Justice Patricia Ajoku dismissed the preliminary objections raised by counsel to the fugitive, Dr. Joseph Nwabike, SAN, that the court was not competent to hear the extradition charge against Mustapha. Justice Ajoku dismissed the application stating that based on the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the court was competent to decide the extradition of the accused person.
After dismissing the motion of preliminary objection, Justice Ajoku gave her ruling based on the evidence before her and the charges against the fugitive.  She ruled that the accused be extradited to the United States of America to face the law. Although counsel to the fugitive had argued that the alleged offences were not extraditable, Justice Ajoku dismissed same stating that it was not tenable that the offences were not known to the Nigerian law. Mustapha and his collaborators were said to have conspired or attempted to steal $798,907.62 in distribution cheques. Of that amount, $750,651.48 were actually issued and deposited into bank accounts controlled by members of the syndicate.
The sum of $500,000 was withdrawn and distributed between Mustapha and his group. Mustapha, 37, had returned to Nigeria after allegedly committing the crime in the United States. However, a collaboration between the EFCC and the FBI led to his arrest by the operative of the EFCC in May last year.
The AGF consequently filed an extradition order before the Federal High Court Lagos. The AGF explained in the order that “… A request has been made to Nigeria by diplomatic representative of the Embassy of the United States of America, Abuja for the surrender of Rasheed Abayomi Mustapha who is jointly a subject of a super ceding indictment in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Case No.: 08-CR-429 and filed on the 31st day of October, 2011”
Some of the charges preferred against Mustapha in the United States of America include:
Court  one: Conspiracy to violate the laws of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States code, Section 1349, namely mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment. Count two to nine: mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, section 1341 and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2, with each count punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.


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