ECOWAS Court Says It Lacks Jurisdiction to Transfer Nigerian Serving Jail Term in America to Nigeria’s Prison

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has declared it lacks jurisdiction and dismissed all the requests made by one Richard Ugbah, a Nigerian who asked the Court to order his transfer from the United States, where he is serving a 12-year imprisonment for wire fraud, in order to complete the remainder of his sentence in his home country.

In the suit No: ECW/CCJ/ APP/ 18/21, filed in the Court, the Applicant, Richard Ugbah, who was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment having been found guilty of wire fraud by a US Court on 14/2/2017 asked the ECOWAS Court to order for his transfer to Nigeria, having satisfied the requirements for such a transfer.

In its judgment delivered on Thursday by Justice Sengu Mohamed Koroma, Judge Rapporteur, the Court declared that it lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter.

In dispensing with the issues, the Court held as to admissibility, that the Second Respondent, the Ministry of justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not a proper party before this Court. However, it upheld the Preliminary Objection raised by the First Respondent, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and declared the claims before it as unfounded and without legal basis. Consequently, it dismissed all the reliefs sought by the Applicant.

In the Initiating Application, the Applicant averred that he is Nigerian citizen resident in the US who was convicted by District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin after he pleaded guilty on one count of wire fraud on 14/2/17 and was sentenced to twelve (12) years imprisonment.

He had also pleaded guilty on 15th November 2017 on another count of conspiracy to commit fraud and judgment was entered on 22/11/17.

The Applicant further stated that having served eight years of the sentence, he is due for release on 8th May, 2026.

He urged the Court to issue the orders having satisfied the conditions for transfer to complete the term in Nigeria in line with the provision of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Handbook on the International Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

He also averred that the transfer of sentenced persons is seen to be an important means of co-operation to prevent and combat crimes, which is the purpose of the United Nations convention against illicit traffic in Narcotic drugs and psychotic substances of 1998, the United Nations Convention against corruption and the United Nations Convention against Transnational organized crime.

The Applicant further asserted that all three conventions mentioned above, refer to the possibility of concluding agreements to facilitate the transfer of persons convicted abroad for the offences covered by the conventions to another state to complete their sentence.

The Respondent, Federal Republic of Nigeria, filed a Preliminary Objection contending that the Applicant’s Initiating Application is incompetent having regard to Article 9 and 10 of the Supplementary Protocol (A/SP./01/05). They added that the 2nd Respondent, the Ministry of Justice is neither a Community Institution nor a signatory to the Economic Community of the West African States Treaty.

The Respondent further claimed that the Honourable Court lacks the Jurisdiction to entertain the suit, and therefore urged the Court to strike out the notice of registration for want of jurisdiction and lack of cause of action.

In its decision, the Court recognized that both parties wanted to remove the Second Respondent from the case, arguing that it was an improper party. The Court struck out the Second Respondent on this basis.
The Court also stated that the Applicant hasn’t shown a valid reason for their complaint against the Respondent.

The Court also found that the matter of competence is a legal issue and the argument presented by the Applicant has no legal basis vesting the Court with the authority to hear and determine the case. As a result, it dismissed the claim and upheld the Respondent’s Preliminary Objection.

The other judges on the panel were Justices Dupe Atoki (Presiding) and Ricardo Claúdio Monteiro Gonçalves (Member).
Gill Lever Appointed New British Deputy High Commissioner

United Kingdom has appointed Mrs Gill Lever OBE as the British Deputy High Commissioner (DHC) in Abuja, Nigeria. She takes over from Ms Gill Atkinson who recently concluded four years as Deputy High Commissioner in Abuja.

According to a statement on Thursday from the British High Commissioner,
Gill Lever is an experienced career diplomat who has worked in different parts of the world including Romania, India and Japan, and prior to becoming the British Deputy High Commissioner (DHC) in Abuja had served as the UK Deputy Head of Mission to Juba, South Sudan from 2022 – 2023.

The statement also added that before then, she served as the Head of Overseas Health and Welfare at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London. In the UK, and worked in a diverse range of roles including as Head of the Peacekeeping Team in the UN Department, Deputy Head of Southeast Asia Department and as a Human Resources Business Partner.

Gill was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2021 for services to Health and Welfare and British Nationals while working on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic response.

She has also worked in the voluntary sector, establishing child drowning prevention programmes, and raising funds for women’s and children’s projects in Vietnam.

Gill is married to Giles and together they have two children, according to the statement.

To mark her arrival, Gill Lever said:
“I am delighted to be back in Nigeria. I was posted to Abuja 10 years ago with my husband and son and have such fond memories. I always knew I’d be back! I am excited about my new role as Deputy High Commissioner. I look forward to working with the talented High Commission team in Abuja, with colleagues in Lagos and in our other smaller posts across our Nigeria network, to deepen the special relationship between our two proud countries.”
KACRAN Commends Buni for Fairness to All

The Kulen Allah Cattle Rearers Association of Nigeria (KACRAN) has said that ensuring justice and fairness for every citizen, irrespective of their tribe, occupation, religion, political beliefs, or geographical background, is the cornerstone for promoting peace, mutual understanding, unity, brotherhood, genuine affection, and progress in any society.

The group said this is important at all level, whether at the community, local government, state, or federal level, even as they commended the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni for imbibing this virtues.

The group in a statement on Thursday by its National President, Khalil Bello said:
“It is this understanding of the importance of this principle that has led to Governor Mai Mala Buni’s exceptional performance in governance and his relationships with the people of his state and Nigerians as a whole.”

Bello said: “KACRAN expresses its appreciation and highest commendation for the Governor’s consistent support towards addressing the issues affecting our members, particularly the pastoralists in the state. This commendation is especially heartfelt during this critical time when pastoralists in some states are neglected and marginalized, deprived of their rights and access to social amenities.

“We have solid evidence to support our stance and highlight the following points:

“Due to Governor Mai Mala Buni’s kindness and compassion, he directed the hardworking and dedicated Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr. Mohammed Goje, to immediately provide palliative materials to the pastoralists in the state. Dr. Goje promptly executed this directive, ensuring that the relief materials were delivered to the doorstep of the pastoralists.

“We are immensely grateful for His Excellency’s magnanimous gesture, especially since Nigerians are currently enduring the hardships caused by the Federal government’s sudden removal of oil subsidy, which has led to soaring prices of essential commodities.

“Governor Mai Mala Buni, in his commitment to fostering peace and harmony between herders and farmers in Yobe State, firmly directed all 17 local government chairmen to establish Farmers/Herders peace-making committees in their respective areas. The primary objective of these committees is to resolve conflicts arising from reckless cattle rearing and the destruction of farmlands, particularly at a time when farmers are busy with harvest activities.

“Governor Buni also cautioned herders against encroaching on farmlands or facing consequences. Farmers, on the other hand, were urged to refrain from encroaching on grazing reserves or obstructing cattle routes. These directives are currently on the process of implementation across the state’s local governments.

“This strong warning/directive by His Excellency, to the state Local Government Chairmen underscores his sincere commitment to maintaining peace and unity in his beloved state.

“For pastoralists, nothing is more concerning than the massive encroachment or complete blockage of cattle routes across the country. Such encroachment has become a major cause of insecurity in the nation. Preventing this encroachment is crucial for fostering lasting peace between farmers and herders, who are partners in progress.

“Governor Buni’s stern warning to herders to allow farmers to access their farmlands is another significant step towards maintaining peace in the state. Peace and understanding can only be achieved when herders stop destroying farmers’ lands and farmers refrain from encroaching on grazing reserves dedicated to cattle rearing and livestock movement between grazing areas and water points.

“Considering Governor Mai Mala Buni’s noteworthy efforts, which have brought joy to both farmers and herders in Yobe State, we, the Kulen Allah Cattle Rearers Association of Nigeria (KACRAN), as direct beneficiaries of these positive actions, earnestly implore all Northern Governors and the Federal Government to learn from his leadership. It is our sincere belief that by doing so, justice and fairness will prevail for all Nigerians. This will greatly contribute to the nation’s security and development, as every Nigerian will be motivated to actively participate in nation-building.”

News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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