A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the extradition of a Nigerian al-Qaeda suspect wanted by the United States.
The suspect, Mr. Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, also known as “Abdullah” and “Ayatollah Mustapher”, was ordered by the court to be extradited to the United States of America for prosecution on terrorism related offences.
Babafemi was charged with “conspiracy to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization, provision and attempted provision of material support to a foreign terrorist organization, unlawful use of firearms and conspiracy to unlawfully use firearms”.
He faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The presiding judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, made the order following an application filed by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed stated that he had read the necessary and relevant documents which emanated from the Office of the AGF in respect of the extradition application and held that the suspect is not contesting or denying the proceeding which seeks to extradite him to the United States.
“Since there is no form of objection to the application from the respondent, this court is satisfied that the application is in order.”
He therefore ordered that Babafemi be extradited to the United States to face the indictment against him.
“The respondent shall be surrendered to officials of the United States Government not later than 15 days from the date of this order” the court declared.
The court also ordered that the suspected Al-Qaeda member be remanded at the custody of Nigeria’s State Security Service, SSS, pending his surrender to officials of the United States Government.
Babafemi fled to Nigeria when he realized that he was to be arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation over his alleged terrorist activities but was arrested and detained by the SSS while trying to recruit for the terrorist group.
US authorities accused Babafemi of belonging to the “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)”, an affiliate of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.
He was further alleged to have traveled to Yemen between January 2010 and August 2011 to train with the group and relate with its senior members including the now deceased Anwar al-Aulaqi and Samir Khan.
The suspect was said to have admitted, upon interrogation, that he was paid about $8,600 by the AQAP to return to Nigeria and recruit some English speaking individuals to work in AQAP’s English Language media organisation.
The media organisation is believed to serve as AQAP’s medium for radicalising English speakers, who it recruits to commit terrorist attacks on its behalf.
Babafemi’s lawyer said there was no cause for alarm as his client was certain of his innocence.