The Federal Government has initiated extraction proceedings against a Nigerian, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, suspected to be member of the terrorist organisation, al-Qaeda.
The federal government applied to a Federal High Court in Abuja for the extradition of 32-year-old Babafemi, also described as “Abdullah” and “Ayatollah Mustapher” to the United States, where he is wanted for his alleged involvement in terrorism-related activities.
In an application for extradition filed before the court, counsel to the government exhibited a four-count charge marked:13CR-109-JG, filed against him before the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York and a bench warrant issued for his arrest by a US magistrate.
Babafemi is charged with “conspiracy to provide support to a foreign terrorist organisation, provision and attempted provision of material support to a foreign terrorist organisation, unlawful use of firearms and conspiracy to unlawfully use firearms.”
The offences, on conviction, attract a minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum of life imprisonment.
US-based Babafemi fled to Nigeria when he suspected that men of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wanted to arrest him. But unfortunately for him, he was arrested in Nigeria and is being held by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Documents filed by the federal government before the Abuja court revealed that the US authorities believe that Babafemi belongs to the “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
He allegedly travelled 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.
Babafemi 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 the organisation’s medium of radicalising English speakers, who it recruits to commit terrorist attacks on its behalf.
The group had claimed responsibility for series of terrorist activities, including the December 25, 2009 bombing attempt in the US by a Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
The extradition application could not be heard when he was taken to court yesterday because it was served late on Babafemi’s lawyer, S. O. Yahaya.
State’s lawyer and head of the Federal Ministry of Justice’s Central Authority Unit, Muslim Hassan, who said court processes were served on Babafemi a day before his appearance in court, however agreed to Yahaya’s request for more time to file his counter processes.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed has fixed hearing of the extradition application for August 28.