President Muhammadu Buhari has sent an executive bill to the House of Representatives seeking approval for the amendment of the Extradition Act, 2004, with a view to expanding its enforcement scope beyond Commonwealth countries.
The bill, which scaled through its First Reading on the floor of the House, seeks to amend Section 2 of the Principal Act and provides that: “subject to the provisions of this section, this Act shall apply to every separate country within the Commonwealth and any other country with whom Nigeria establishes an extradition treaty or arrangement”.
The President also proposed an amendment of Section 15 of the Principal Act, by inserting immediately after the existing section 15, a new section 15 A, on the Prosecution of a fugitive upon refusal to surrender.
It provides that where Nigeria refuses to surrender a fugitive criminal to a requesting State on a ground other than the ground of dual criminality, Nigeria shall upon a request by the requesting State, commence prosecution of the fugitive under a special arrangement between Nigeria and the requesting state.
In the same vein, the Executive bill provides that for the purposes of this Act, returnable offense’ means an offense however described, which is punishable by imprisonment for a term of two years or more, in Nigeria, and a Commonwealth Country or country having an extradition Treaty with Nigeria seeking the surrender of the fugitive.
As stipulated in the bill under Schedule provisional arrest warrant Clause 1 provides that: “Upon receipt of information that a fugitive is in Nigeria, suspected to be in or on his way into Nigeria, a Judge may issue a provisional arrest warrant under section 6 of the Act, to bring the fugitive before the Court”.
In line with extant legislative procedure, the bill is expected to be gazetted for Second Reading during which members are to make inputs.
Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; Editing by Tina Oyinsan and Tony Okerafor