The Federal Government has initiated extradition proceeding against a Nigerian, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, who was accused of belonging to a foreign terrorist organization, al-Qaeda.
The government applied to a Federal High Court in Abuja for the extradition of 32 years old Babafemi also described as “Abdullah” and “Ayatollah Mustapher” to the United States, where he is wanted over his alleged involvement in terrorism related activities.
In its application, FG, 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.
Specifically, the suspect 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.”
Upon conviction, the charge against him attracts a minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum of life imprisonment.
FG maintained that Babafemi, who until now, was based in the US, fled to the country upon realizing that he was to be arrested by men of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
He had since been arrested and is being held by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Documents filed by the FG before the Abuja court further revealed that the US authorities are of the view 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 organization.
The media organization is believed to serve as the organization’s medium of radicalizsing 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 on Thursday owing to its late service on Babafemi’s lawyer, S. O. Yahaya.