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Policemen in Nigeria frustrating my coming come — UK based Nigerian raises alarm

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…Alleges trump up charges, extortion of N1m by police

·…UK court, Nigerian activist reacts

By Evelyn Usman

For some years now, a United Kingdom-based Nigerian entrepreneur, Mr Bankole Ogunowo, has had his dreams of visiting the home to see his aged mother and relatives shattered, owing to allegations of trafficking in human levied against him by his estranged wife, Eillen, here in Nigeria.

Consequently, the INTERPOL section of the Nigeria Police, wrote the Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom, to extradite Ogunowo, in order to be investigated on alleged trump up charges on impersonation, false documentation, among others.

Before the INTERPOL’s move, policemen at the Force Criminal Investigations Department, FCID Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos State, where the complaint by Ogunnowo’s ex was lodged, had been investigating the matter.

Also read: UK blocks Nigeria’s plan to pay $110m to Bagudu — Report

During the process, Ogunowo alleged that the detectives extorted over N1 million from him, claiming they intended to use it to withdraw the court case against him.

In a petition to the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, Ogunowo, traced the genesis of his ordeal to February 2012, when he got married to Eileen, at the Ikeja Marriage registry.

Being a British citizen of Nigeria extraction, Eileen, as gathered, facilitated her husband’s relocation to the United Kingdom.

With time, things fell apart for the couple. Recalling the situation, Ogunowo, said: “ Since then, my estranged wife and her mother vowed to get me deported to Nigeria and send me to prison. They levied malicious allegations of crimes against me in the UK. But during an investigation by the UK Police and family court, I was exonerated from all allegations.

“Thereafter, they went to Nigeria, with the same allegations that had been investigated in the UK. When all attempts at the FCID, Alagbon and Ondo State Police command failed, they wrote a letter to Interpol Unit, Abuja for my extradition.

“Without any attempt to extend the investigation to me or contact me in spite of the fact that I am not a fugitive criminal in the UK, the Police in Lagos, acting with their co-conspirators and collaborators in Abuja, concluded a purported investigation and filed a trump up a charge against me at the Federal High Court, Abuja with charge no FHC/ABJ/CR/71/18, which I only got to know about when the extradition papers were sent to the UK.

“Again, it is worthy of note that the Police Interim Investigation report dated May 8, 2017, addressed to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), FCID from the Office of the Commissioner of Police (Interpol) and the subsequent approval to commence the extradition process carried the offences of Criminal Conspiracy, Cheating and Obtaining under False Pretense.

“The warrant of arrest, dated November 20, 2017, from the Magistrate Court, Wuse, Abuja, which was obtained by the Police as part of the extradition requirement, listed the offences of a threat to life, falsification of documents and impersonation.

Allege extortion

“Upon receipt of the letter of extradition, I contacted the Office of the Interpol Abuja and attached it with a letter furnishing the Unit with facts. The officers who assisted my ex-wife to facilitate the charges had since been extorting me. I have paid over an N1million which the policemen claimed they needed to facilitate withdrawal of the malicious charges against me. In spite of the payment, the so-called charges are still pending against me.

“My entry into the United Kingdom was legal, my continuous stay till date in the UK is also legal as my immigration documents can show. I’m not an illegal immigrant. The alleged offences for which my extradition is being sought are not extraditable offences as stated in the general rule that extricable offences must be those commonly recognised. I most humbly urge you sir, to order a comprehensive investigation into this case, bring all the policemen who are found wanting in compromising their position and office to book with a view to bringing the name and image of the Nigeria Police to ridicule and disrepute. There should also be an order to withdraw the frivolous charges against me at the Federal High Court”, Ogunowo stated in the petition to the IGP .

UK Court

Meanwhile, a West Minister Magistrate Court on the ruling regarding the request of Ogunowo’s extradition, last September, described the request as a risk.

Positing the court’s view on the request, the District Judge, Michael Fanning, requested that before Ogunowo’s extradition would be granted, the Nigerian government should provide information concerning the conditions of detention.

The Court, therefore, requested for information bordering on where Ogunowo would be kept if he was returned to Nigeria, before and after trial; if he would be given three square meals per day, if he would be accommodated in a cell which would provide him with at least, three square metres of personal space (excluding any in-cell sanitary facilities); if he would have access to medical care, including access to medication for the prevention of malaria and tuberculosis, as well as the provision of treatment for depression and the length of time he would be held in detention pre-trial.

Police silence

The Nigeria Police response was expected to reach the UK court by October 14, 2019, before a further hearing to determine how to proceed, on October 21, 2019, but the UK court as reliably gathered, did not receive any response to its demands, from the Nigeria Police end.

Consequently, on October 21 2019, the UK Court delivered its judgment in favour of Ogunowo

Uk court’s judgement

The judge in a copy of the judgment made available to Crime Guard said he was compelled to discharge Ogunowo under section 84(5) of the existing constitution on extradition.

He said: “The London treaty is overarching Treaty governing this extradition request. This request appears to be only the second such request made of the UK by Nigeria. As already noted, ‘a prison assurance’ was sought in that case too but none was proffered. That is the case with this request. There is, therefore, no record of Nigeria abiding by similar assurances. There are no established bilateral relations between Nigeria and the Uk in respect of extradition”.

Continuing, he said: “I discharge the RP( Requested Person) under s.78(3)EA 2003 in respect of counts 1,5 and 7 on the grounds of inadequate particularisation as required by s, 78(2)(c) EA 2003; I discharge RP under s.78(6) in respect of counts 1 and 2on the grounds that neither is an extradition offence as required by s.78(4)(b) EA 2003and as defined in s.137(3) EA 2003”.

The Judge further discharged Ogunowo on all count charges, stating that “ I do not find that there is a prima facie case against him.

I find that RP Article 3 Right will not be protected if extradited, by reason of which the prevailing prison conditions in Nigeria has been asked for, but has not provided any assurance that could assuage my concerns.

RP’s Article 8 rights to family life and those of his children and partner would be impermissibly interfered with, was his extradition ordered. I discharge RP under s.87(2)”, said Judge Michael Fanning.

Activist reacts

Meanwhile, the Convener of #End SARs, Segun Awosanyan, has called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, to make findings on the allegations of extortion of Ogunowo, by policemen whose names were disclosed in the complainant’s petition to him(IGP), public.

His followed what was described as silence on the part of the Police High Command on the findings of the report of a panel set up to investigate the alleged extortion, since last year.

Though some senior police officers at the Police High command confirmed that the IGP set up a panel to probe Ogunowo’s allegation. But none revealed its outcome.

Awosanyan had tweeted “ “The UK authorities believe that our fellow citizen Mr Bankole is not safe to even visit his own country based on the level of conspiracy weaponized against him by the Police even after discharging him abroad. We need closure having found that this is another work of impunity. There is no way a crime of this magnitude should be swept under any proverbial carpet. We need the report ASAP in the public domain and urgently must bring to book all those involved. The IG of @PoliceNG should prioritize this. #EndImpunity.”

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