The Nigerian government requested the United States of America to extradite to Nigeria, a Nigerian based in the United States for fraud.[1] In recent times, there has been agitation by Nigerians urging the Nigerian government to request the extradition of former petroleum resources minister; Mrs Allison-Madueke.

It has therefore become pertinent to discuss extradition as a tool for ensuring that persons who infract the criminal law are held accountable for their wrong.

A country cannot enforce its laws in another country, neither can a state violate the territorial integrity of another state by effecting an arrest in another country; it amounts to an act of war. The only option open to a country whose laws have been violated by a person who has ceased to be within its territory and whom it is desirous of prosecuting is requesting the extradition of the offender.

The rationale behind extradition has been explained thus:

‘Founded upon the broad principle that it is in the interest of civilized communities that crimes acknowledged to be such should not go unpunished and it is part of the comity of nations that one state should afford to another every assistance towards bringing persons guilty of such crimes to justice.[2]

When an extradition request is made by a country, the extradition request of the requesting country will be considered in the light of the requested country’s law.

A few lines are hardly enough to discuss extradition, however, a few things will be highlighted.

Extradition is one aspect of law which is governed by both a country’s municipal law and International law; to a large extent international law has a bearing on a country’s extradition laws and policy.

The Nigerian Extradition Act governs extradition in Nigeria.

In Terlindem V. Amens[3] extradition was defined as The surrender by one nation to another of an individual accused or convicted of an offence outside of its own territory and within the territorial jurisdiction of the other, which being competent to try and punish him, demands his surrender.”

Before a state can request the extradition of an individual accused of an offence, it must have jurisdiction to try that person. Extradition can be requested when a person has committed an offence and has not yet been tried, or when a person has been convicted but flees the country where he was convicted in order to escape punishment.

Extradition is usually not granted where the offence for which the requested person is sought to be extradited is a political offence or a military offence; or where he is sought to be prosecuted on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions or where it is otherwise not made in good faith or in the interest of justice, or where there are indications that he could be prejudiced at his trial.

The principle of double criminality in extradition law requires the offence for which the requested person is sought to be an offence under the laws of the requesting state as well as under the laws of the requested state.

There also exist the speciality rule under the extradition law which demands that the requested person be tried by the requesting state for only the offence for which his extradition was sought and granted and nothing more.

Some countries prohibit the extradition of their citizens, the Nigerian Extradition Act also prohibits the extradition of Nigerian citizens, however, it provides that if there is an Extradition Treaty between Nigeria and the requesting state which provides for the extradition of citizens of the contracting states, then, a Nigerian citizen can be extradited. An example is the Extradition Treaty between Nigeria and South Africa which provides for the extradition of their citizens.

Though under International law, a state has no obligation to extradite, extradition could still be granted on the basis of reciprocity. Where there exists a treaty between the requesting state and the requested state, then the requested state has an obligation to extradite.

Nigeria has requested and has received the extradition of some persons, a few examples include ; Aminu Ogwuche, a member of the Nigerian terrorist sect, Boko Haram  was extradited to Nigeria by the Sudanese government  on the 15th of July 2014 ,[4] upon the request of the Nigerian government. Also Anthony Enahoro was also extradited to Nigeria by the United Kingdom.

The Nigerian government is not relenting in its effort to ensure that persons who breach the law are held accountable for their crimes. The Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari has recently signed an extradition Treaty with the United Arab Emirates.[5]

It would be erroneous for anyone to think that he can commit a crime in any part of the world and go free without having to answer for his crimes. Extradition serves as a veritable tool for ensuring that persons who commit crimes irrespective of where they may flee to are brought back to the place where they have done wrong to answer for their crimes.

[1] Accessed at  on 13 August 2017

[2] Re Arton (1896) 1QB 108 Pg 11

[3] (1902) 184 U.S 270. P. 289

[4] Accessed on the 23rd of August 2017.

[5] This was signed in the month of August 2017