ECOWAS Court to Hear Nigerian’s Request for Deportation from US Prison to Nigeria


The ECOWAS Court of Justice has scheduled May 2, 2023, to begin hearing a case brought by a Nigerian, Richard Ugbah, who is seeking deportation from the United States back to Nigeria, where he was convicted of wire fraud.

Ugbah, who was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in 2027, has pleaded with the Court to order his deportation from the US to Nigeria, where he wishes to complete the remainder of his sentence.

In his suit, Ugbah has cited the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, 2000, particularly Article 17, which is given effect under Article 34 of the said convention, as a legal basis for his request. He is also asking the court to order the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Justice to visit him and other Nigerians serving jail terms abroad to determine those interested in being transferred to Nigeria to serve out the remainder of their sentences.

Ugbah, who is due for release on May 8, 2026, is seeking a declaration from the Court that he is eligible for transfer from the United States of America to Nigeria, having met all cumulative requirements for prisoner transfer, pursuant to the legally binding United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, 2000. Additionally, he is asking for an order directing the Respondents to initiate the process for his transfer through relevant Departments of the US Government or respective sentencing Authority(s) in the US.

Furthermore, Ugbah is asking for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents from arresting, detaining, investigating, or prosecuting him on the same set of facts for which he has already been convicted, sentenced, and served jail time in the USA.

The transfer of sentenced persons is seen as an important means of cooperation to prevent and combat crimes, and this is the purpose of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1998, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, all of which Ugbah cites in his application.

For the most part, the Respondents have raised a preliminary objection that the Applicant’s Originating Process is incompetent having regard to Article 9 and 10 of the Supplementary Protocol (A/SP./01/05). They have also argued that the Federal Ministry of Justice, which Ugbah is suing, is not a proper party before the Court.

The case will be heard by a three-member panel composed of Justices Dupe Atoki (Presiding), Sengu M. Koroma (Member), and Ricardo Claudio Monteiro Gonçalves (Member).

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