Legal Nigeria

 Repatriation: Nigerian fraud convict loses suit at ECOWAS Court

The suit of a Nigerian, Richard Ugbah serving a jail sentence in the United States of America, asking to be repatriated to Nigeria, has been dismissed by the ECOWAS Court of Justice.

Ugbah who was sentenced to 12 years in jail in 2017 for wire fraud, is due for release on May 8, 2026. He asked the court to order the process of his repatriation to Nigeria, to serve the rest of his sentence.

In the suit marked: ECW/CCJ/ APP/ 18/21, Ugbah urged claimed he has satisfied the conditions for transfer in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Handbook on the International Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

But in a preliminary objection to the suit, the Federal Republic of Nigeria argued that the application was incompetent and against the provision of Articles 9 and 10 of Article Supplementary Protocol.

The FG contended that the Ministry of Justice, which was the second respondent, was neither a community institution nor a signatory to the ECOWAS Treaty.

It maintained that the ECOWAS Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter and asked it to dismiss the suit.

While giving the lead verdict, Justice Sengu Koroma held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter. The court also held that the applicant had not shown a valid reason for their complaint against the respondent.

The court said: “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,” the court held.