Legal Nigeria

Court refuses ex-Mint boss’ request for freedom

Detained former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPM), Emmanuel Okoyomon, yesterday lost his bid to regain freedom as a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Apo dismissed his application.
Justice Valentine Ashi, in a ruling, upheld argument by respondents’ lawyer, Muslim Hassan, to the effect that Okoyomon’s application filed after the Court of Appeal ordered his remand in Kuje prison, Abuja pending the determination of his appeal, was misplaced and without merit.
The judge, who held that his court was without jurisdiction to hear Okoyomon’s application,  agreed with the position canvassed by the Deputy Comptroller in Charge of Medium Security Prison, Kuje  and the Attorney General of the Federation (who are the respondents) that the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over extradition proceedings.
Justice Ashi further held that since Okoyomon’s detention at the Kuje prison arose from an extradition proceedings, and on the strength of a judgment by a Federal High Court in Abuja, his fate is tied to the extradition proceedings.
The judge was of the view that Okoyomon could either turn to the Federal High Court with his fresh application –a writ of habeas corpus – or return to the Court of Appeal to pursue his pending appeal to a logical conclusion.
He held that he cannot grant Okoyomon’s application since the Court of Appeal was aware of his pending appeal and that the appellate court had already refused his earlier bail application, but ordered his continued detention pending the determination of his appeal.
“I am unable to find any law empowering me to circumvent the decision of the Court of Appeal. In view of all I have said, I find no merit in this application. It is frivolous,” the judge said and dismissed the application.
Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on May 4 this year, granted Okoyomon’s extradition to the United Kingdom where he has been accused of complicity in the bribery allegation, involving officials of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN NSPM and Securency International Pty of Australia between 2006 and 2008.
Okoyomon appealed the High Court decision at the Court of Appeal, Abuja. He applied to the court for bail and stay of execution of the decision by Justice Chukwu. But, in its ruling on June 26, the appellate court rejected his (Okoyomon’s) application for bail on the ground that it was unmeritorious.
The appellate court however granted Okoyomon’s request for stay of execution of the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, directing the Federal Government to proceed with his extradition.
Rather than pursue his pending appeal, Okoyomon went before the FCT High Court with a fresh suit, challenging his continued detention.