Hong Kong cannot deport a Nigerian heroin smuggler who spent 16 years in prison because he might face a second drug trial in the West African country, a judge ruled yesterday. Nigerian law left the door open to re-prosecute Edward Wilson Ubamaka, 45, and that would amount to inhumane and degrading treatment, Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes wrote in a 30-page ruling. His judgment is the first time in the city that a deportation order has been quashed over so-called 'double jeopardy'. 'Mr Ubamaka paid his 'dues' to society by reason of his long imprisonment,' he wrote. 'To deport Mr Ubamaka at some point in the future to face the real risk of retrial in Nigeria would, I think, be a cruel blow.' The decision came after Mr Justice Reyes heard arguments in a judicial review application launched to fight the Nigerian's deportation. 'It means I'm closer to getting my life back,' Mr Ubamaka said. 'It really takes a heavy weight off my shoulders.' In 1993, Mr Ubamaka was convicted of smuggling 11 kilograms of heroin. He served 16 years of a 24-year sentence and was then placed in immigration detention. He was released last year. Mr Ubamaka's barrister, Hectar Pun, had argued that Hong Kong law prohibited retrying a person for the same crime. Nigerian law allowed for that possibility, he said. Mr Justice Reyes threw cold water on arguments from the Secretary for Justice that the prospect of a second trial was remote. Nigeria's constitution barred trying a person for the same crime 'save upon the order of a superior', the judge noted. 'What precisely does that mean?' he wrote. 'Can a Nigerian prosecutor invite a 'superior court' to authorise a prosecution for the same offence, despite the injunction in the constitution?' Even if Mr Ubamaka was not retried for heroin smuggling, he could be prosecuted under another law that doled out as much as five years in prison for 'bringing Nigeria into disrepute', the judge said. Although a city ban on double jeopardy is meant to protect against a second prosecution in Hong Kong, the prospect of a Nigerian prison sentence breached laws against cruel and inhumane treatment, the judge ruled. 'The threat alone of such a future could well induce fear and anguish in [Mr Ubamaka] as a human being,' Mr Justice Reyes wrote. The Justice Department could appeal against Mr Justice Reyes' ruling. Mr Justice Reyes also ruled that the Nigerian's immigration detention had been unlawful, paving the way for him to sue the government. Last summer, the Court of Appeal ruled that almost 400 immigration detainees were being held illegally because authorities had no clear policy to explain their incarceration. Most have since been released as they fight to stay in Hong Kong.