Court orders extradition of Nigerian to U.S.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday granted the Federal Government power to extradite a suspected Nigerian terrorist, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi (aka Abdullah Ayatollah Mustapher), who is wanted in the United States of America for alleged terrorism related activities.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed granted the order while ruling on an application by government for extradition of Babafemi to the U.S.
Counsel to the respondent, Olorun Ajeh, did not oppose the application.
Babafemi, an al-Qaeda suspect, had equally confirmed to Justice Mohammed that he had no objection to the Federal Government’s request to extradite him.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed said: “The respondent, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi aka Abdullah Ayatollah Mustapher, is not contesting these proceedings which are meant to extradite him to the United States of America.
“The respondent’s solicitor only urged the court to take into account the fact that the respondent has been in the custody of State Security Service (SSS) for over 24 calendar months, that the respondent has cooperated with the local authorities in Nigeria.
“Since there is no objection by the respondent, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi aka Abdullah Ayatollah Mustapher, to the application for his extradition, this court is satisfied that the application by the Attorney General of the Federation for the extradition of the respondent to the United States of America is proper and in accordance with the Extradiction Act 2004,” he added.
Justice Mohammed, therefore, declared: “An order is hereby made that the respondent in this case, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi aka Abdullah Ayatollah, be extradited to the United States of America to face the indictment against him.”
He also ordered that the respondent, Babafemi, shall be surrendered to officials of the United States of America not later than 15 days from the order of the court.
“The respondent shall remain in the custody of the State Security Service of the Federation pending his surrender and eventual extradition to the United States of America,” the judge added.
The Federal Government early August initiated the extraction proceedings against Babafemi who is suspected to be a member of the terrorist organisation, al-Qaeda.
The government had applied to the court for extradition of Babafemi, 32, also described as “Abdullah” and “Ayatollah Mustapher” to the United States, where he is wanted for his alleged involvement in terrorism-related activities.
In the application for extradition, counsel to the government, Muslim Hassan, had exhibited a four-count charge marked, ‘13CR-109-JG’, filed against the suspect at the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York and a bench warrant issued for his arrest by a U.S. magistrate.
He was charged with “conspiracy to provide support to a foreign terrorist organisation, provision and attempted provision of material support to a foreign terrorist organisation, unlawful use of firearms and conspiracy to unlawfully use firearms.”
The offences, on conviction, attract a minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum of life imprisonment.
Babafemi, who was based in the U.S., fled to Nigeria when he suspected that he was to be arrested by men of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
But he was arrested in Nigeria and is being held by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Documents filed by the Federal Government before the court revealed that the U.S. authorities were of the view that Babafemi belonged to the “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
He allegedly travelled to Yemen between January 2010 and August 2011 to train with the group and relate with its senior members, including the now deceased Anwar al-Aulaqi and Samir Khan.
Babafemi was said to have admitted, upon interrogation, that he was paid about $8,600 by the AQAP to return to Nigeria and recruit some English-speaking individuals to work in AQAP’s English language media organisation.
The media organisation is believed to serve as the organisation’s medium of radicalising English speakers, who it recruits to commit terrorist attacks on its behalf.
The group had claimed responsibility for series of terrorist activities, including the December 25, 2009 bombing attempt in the U.S. by a Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Two other persons, Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and Saheed Adewumi, suspected to be members of an Iranian terrorist organisation, were also on Wednesday arraigned before an Abuja Federal High Court for their alleged involvement in terrorism activies between 2011 and 2012 in the Middle East and Lagos State.
The six-count charge preferred against the suspects by prosecuting counsel, Chioma Onuegbu, on behalf of the Federal Government was dated July 12 and filed on the same date.
Both terror suspects pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them.
This prompted the prosecuting counsel to ask the Justice Ahmed Mohammed to fix a date to enable the Federal Government prove its case against the duo.
However, efforts of counsel to the 1st respondent (Abdullahi) and 2nd respondent (Adewumi) to apply for the bail of the suspects failed, as the judge refused to entertain any oral application for bail.
“I don’t entertain oral application, it is not in my policy; you have to apply formally for bail if you wish,” Justice Mohammed declared.
The state counsel applied for accelerated hearing of the matter, which both respondents’ lawyers did not object.
The judge ordered an accelerated hearing into the case just as he fixed September 17, 18 and 19 for the Federal Government to open its case and possibly close it within the specified timeframe.
He stated that the respondents would equally be accorded time to open and close their defence, just as he ordered that they be remanded in the custody of the SSS as prayed by the prosecuting counsel.



Daily Independent
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