The International Police Organization, INTERPOL, has responded to an inquiry filed by PREMIUM TIMES on why Abdulrasheed Maina, a man it declared wanted and placed on its Red Notice was moving around the world without hindrance.
Mr. Maina was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in 2015. He was subsequently placed on INTERPOL’s wanted list by the EFCC.
However, despite the listing, Mr. Maina spent over two years in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and secretly visited Nigeria a few times within the period.
The embattled civil servant, however, narrowly escaped arrest in the United States at a point, as he used his immigration status to wriggle out, a source familiar with the matter told PREMIUM TIMES.
Documents seen by this newspaper showed correspondences between EFCC and INTERPOL through its Nigerian liaison from late 2015 to early 2016.
The EFCC first filed a request for Mr. Maina’s Red Notice listing on November 18, 2015.
After a couple of letters between the two sides, the INTERPOL office in the Nigerian Police headquarters, which is Nigeria’s designated National Central Bureau, wrote to the EFCC confirming Mr. Maina’s listing.
The letter dated January 11, 2016, and signed by Olushola Kamar Subair, confirmed the conclusion of the process.
Mr. Subair, a police commissioner, also attached an extract from INTERPOL’s database to show evidence of the publication.
The extract, dated 7/1/2015, carries Mr. Maina’s picture, passport number, and other details, along with reasons why he was declared wanted.
The document also contained two requests for the 192 INTERPOL member nations: “Locate and arrest with a view to extradition” and “provisional arrest”.
Officials said it was, therefore, a puzzle that Mr. Maina could be moving around despite the publication of the notice.
A search conducted on INTERPOL’s Wanted List window on its website did not reveal Mr. Maina’s name, raising concern as to what happened to his supposed listing.
However, INTERPOL said the absence of Mr. Maina’s name on its public search window does not mean he was not on its red notice.
The organization referred PREMIUM TIMES to the Nigerian Police for real reasons behind Mr. Maina’s seeming disappearance from the radar.
An investigator familiar with the Maina case said it was possible the suspect might have used some elements to take down the notice.
He said the EFCC had seen early warning signs showing that Mr. Maina was having his ears in the Nigeria Police INTERPOL office with the disappearance of initial request letter filed for his arrest.
“Mr. Maina made many attempts to get EFCC remove his name from the Red Notice, promising to bring himself back. This shows that the man was aware of his listing, which is an anomaly itself. No one should know that he or she has been flagged,” the source said.
But efforts to get the Nigeria Police to speak on the matter have been abortive. Police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, who promised Wednesday evening to call our reporter back did not do so 24 hours after.
Also, further calls made to him on Thursday were not answered.
Read the full INTERPOL response below:
Confidentiality Level: INTERPOL For official use only
Dear Mr. Abdulaziz,
Thank you for your email.
If or when police in any of INTERPOL’s 192 member countries share information with the General Secretariat in Lyon in relation to investigations and fugitives, this information remains under the ownership of that member country. INTERPOL does not, therefore, comment on specific cases or individuals except in special circumstances and with approval of the member country concerned.
With regard to your request in relation to this individual, we would advise you to contact the authorities in the countries where you believe there may be an investigation ongoing.
If INTERPOL is asked to send out a Red Notice in response to an arrest warrant, following a review to ensure the request conforms with our rules and regulations, the information will be sent out to all our 192 member countries.
In addition to this, member countries have the option of having an abridged version of the Red Notice posted on INTERPOL’s website http://www.interpol.int/Wanted-Persons.
If no Red Notice is published, this is either because one has not been requested or issued for that person, or the requesting country has asked that it not be publicized.
A Red Notice is a request to provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition issued by the General Secretariat upon the request of a member country based on a valid national arrest warrant. It is not an international arrest warrant.
The individuals concerned are wanted by national jurisdictions (or International Criminal Tribunals, where appropriate) and INTERPOL’s role is to assist national police forces in identifying or locating those individuals with a view to their arrest and extradition.
Red Notices are only issued to INTERPOL member countries if the requesting National Central Bureau (NCB) has provided all the information required by the General Secretariat.
INTERPOL’s General Secretariat does not send officers to arrest individuals who are the subject of a Red Notice.
Many of INTERPOL’s member countries, however, consider a Red Notice a valid request for provisional arrest, especially if they are linked to the requesting country via a bilateral extradition treaty. In cases where arrests are made based on a Red Notice, these are made by national police officials in INTERPOL member countries.
INTERPOL cannot insist or compel any member country to arrest an individual who is the subject of a Red Notice. Nor can INTERPOL require any member country to take any action in response to another member country’s request. Each INTERPOL member country decides for itself what legal value to give Red Notice within their borders.