Published On: Tue, May 19th, 2015

A Senator-elect and his legal headaches

 

Prince Buruji Kashamu is at the mercy of a verdict of a Federal High Court in Lagos, which will decide whether or not he should be extradited to the USA for a criminal trial. PAUL DADA  examines the issues

As new senators-elect from senatorial districts across the country, wait with eager anticipation for the inauguration of the next National Assembly in June, one of them is  uncertain about his future. His future lies at the mercy of the verdict of a Federal Court which has the power to stop his possible extradition to the United States of America for alleged drug offences.

This senator-elect is Prince Buruji Kashamu of Ogun East Senatorial District.

Kashamu is currently wanted by the United States for allegedly trafficking millions of dollars in heroine from Europe and Southeast Asia through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. This was said to have happened in 2009 The UK authorities detained for four years but they eventually released him. Kashamu, and detained him for four years, before eventually releasing him.

Although the senator-elect and strongman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in the South West, denies being involved in the alleged crime, he stands indicted by the American authorities, and is currently wanted for trial.

But Kashamu who was a political godson of former President Olusegun Obasanjo had nothing to worry about.  Besides, he was also an ardent supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan as well as one of those who drove his campaign for a second shot at the exalted seat at Aso Rock, Abuja.

Of course, it is no news that Kashamu fell out with Obasanjo who covertly switched his support from Jonathan to General Muhamadu Buhari, who has now emerged the President-elect.

Kashamu alleges that Obasanjo is the mastermind of a plot to extradite him, even as he maintains his innocence. In an interview, the embattled politician said:

“I have done a lot of things to clear my name. I spent four years in detention at the hands of the US authorities to prove my innocence before I was eventually exonerated. This was also in the presence of the US prosecutors and other agencies in various countries, like the Republic of Benin, Nigeria,” he said.

Kashamu that the US government mistakes him for his brother, who is also alleged to have trafficked narcotics also in 2009.

“You’ve seen a lot of people that the U.S has arrested because of a mistaken of identity, who have been involved in many things and have been arrested but at the end of the day, they will find out they knew nothing about this case,” he added.

Kashamu, also went ahead to join issues with a  radical lawyer, Festus Keyamo who had maintained during a radio programme that his election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was morally wrong.

In a response, through his lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede,  Kashamu said Keyamo’s outburst was politically-motivated and not from a legal point of view.

In a statement signed by the lawyer, Kashamu accused Keyamo of manifesting “a total ignorance of the incontrovertible facts of the matter without regard to his learning as a lawyer and his undoubted proficiency in the profession.@

“Buruji Kashamu is not just merely claiming that he is innocent; two different courts in England, in two different judgments, have found and declared that Buruji Kashamu is innocent of the allegations made against him in the US court:

“The first is the English High Court of Justice (Kings Bench Division) in its judgment of January 2000 in which it said that the US Authorities Actually knew that Kashamu is innocent when they suppressed evidence of an identification parade in which the ring leader of the gang (that allegedly confessed that they had a West African link called “ALAJI) said that Buruji Kashamu was not the man involved with them.

“The English High Court for this reason nullified and set aside the favourable judgment obtained by the U.S authorities against Kashamu on the basis of this suppressed exculpatory evidence,” he said.

“The second judgment is that of 10th January 2003 in which District Judge Tim Workman expressly found (after 3 years of trial involving extensive oral evidence from both sides and copious documentary evidence) that the U.S Government had provided false evidence and eventually held that Kashamu was not involved in the crimes alleged and should be discharged.

“The U.S authorities did not appeal against these judgments and have made no move whatsoever in the last 11 years to extradite Kashamu,” the statement read in parts.

“The second significant error in Festus’ outburst is the misrepresentation to the Nigerian public that the US Government has asked for Kashamu’s extradition.

“The truth, which the Attorney General has himself confirmed in a case pending in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and by letter issued on 25th January 2015, is that the U.S Government has never asked for the extradition of Kashamu at any time up till today 23rd April 2015 (yesterday), the statement said.

Kashamu would not be satisfied with responding to his critics via oral oral and written means, he went ahead to file a case in court to forestall a possible extradition to the United States of America to face criminal charges.

In the suit Kashamu joined the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and eleven others as respondents.

Some of the other respondents in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/505/15 are the Inspector General of Police, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Director General, Department of State Service; the Interpol National Central Bureau; and the Attorney General of the Federation.

Kashamu  is asking the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to declare that a move to abduct and forcibly transport him to the US amounts to a violation of his rights to liberty, freedom of association and freedom of movement as protected by sections 35, 40 and 41 of the Constitution

Kashamu wants the court to give an order directing the police IG to “provide a security detail of at least six armed police officers to protect the applicant at all times of the day and to prevent (him) from any attack or abduction.”

On  Friday, May 8, the court presided over by Justice Okon Abang, heard the counter-affidavits by the12-respondents in the case brought before it by Kashamu.

The judge has reserved May 27 to deliver a verdict in the matter. The verdict will determine whether Kashamu will enjoy a legal protection should the USA make a request for extraction, or if the Nigerian government is minded to send him to the Uncle Sam’s country for a criminal trial.

 

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