ADE ALADE, Abuja
At least 10 Nigerian businessmen and companies have been declared wanted by no fewer than seven countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Austria following their indictment for alleged multi-million dollars fraud.
As a result, the US, UK, Austria, Poland, Ukraine, Brazil and Niger Republic have between March and June written the Nigerian government through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, seeking Mutual Legal Assistance, MLA for the extradition of the indicted businessmen.
A source at the AGF office in Abuja told Saturday Sun that Malami had since directed the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, to investigate the indicted Nigerians for possible prosecution and extradition to face charges in the affected countries.
According to the source, two of the requests came from the United States, seeking the arrest of Messrs Nsima Idem and Richard Legemah, accused of defrauding a New Jersey based religious organization of $200,000. The request was subsequently directed to the EFCC on March 18, 2020 in a letter referenced CAU/MLA/023/2020.
Another of such requests from the US pertains to the investigation of an individual, whose alias was given as Thompson Galbraith. It came in another letter referenced CAU/MLA/022/2020, and also dated March 18, 2020, from the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to the EFCC.
In its own MLA request, the United Kingdom is seeking the investigation and prosecution of two individuals, Anthony Omo Okoh and Sandra Okoh. The request, for their arrest was communicated to the EFCC through the AGF via a letter dated June 17, 2020 with reference number CAU/MLA/033/20.
The third country seeking MLA from Nigeria which the AGF referred to the EFCC for prompt response, in the last three months, is Austria. The Ministry source told Saturday Sun that the MLA pertains to the execution of a disclosure of information on bank accounts and other transactions and seizures. The request was communicated to the EFCC through a letter marked CAU/MLA/193/18 sent from the AGF’s office.
The Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau also made an MLA request in criminal proceedings from Nigeria on March 18, 2020. The request was routed through the AGF’s office to the EFCC in a letter referenced CAU/MLA/016/20.
The same request was made by Poland on June 8, 2020 concerning Pitbull West Company. The source gave the reference number of the letter as CAU/MLA/031/20.
The sixth request for MLA came from Brazil on March 18, 2020. It borders on information on Chijoke Andrew Okonkwo who is wanted in Brazil for some criminal matters. The request was communicated to the EFCC through the AGF in a letter referenced CAU/MLA/77/19 while another request came from Niger Republic concerning the extradition of Hima Aboubakar. The letter dated 18 June, 2020, also emanated from the AGF’s office to the EFCC and it was referenced CAU/Ext/222/18.
The source disclosed that the EFCC has since begun tracing the indicted Nigerian businessmen with a view to bringing them before the court for prosecution and extradition orders. The official further stated that the AGF memos on the MLA requests to the EFCC may not represent recent insinuations of possible rift between Malami and Magu. Dismissing media reports of deep animosity between the two top officials driving the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption war, the source further claimed that the AGF has often commended Magu’s strides at the EFCC.