Court Dismisses FG’s Request To Extradite Kashamu To U.S. | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Court Dismisses FG’s Request To Extradite Kashamu To U.S.

Posted: Jul 1, 2015 at 3:31 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Joe Nwankwo, Abuja

A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole on Wednesday July 1, 2015 halted Federal Government moves to extradite Buruji Kashamu, a Senator, to the United States of America (USA) to face drug related charges.

In a ruling, Justice Kolawole dismissed the extradition application lodged against Kashamu, senator representing Ogun-East  Senatorial District, by the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

The application, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/479/2015, which was filed before the court on May 28, 2015, was signed by the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN).

The application was predicated on a request by the U.S. Embassy asking the Nigerian government to surrender Kashamu to face one-count of drug related charge before the United States District Court for the Northern Illinois, Eastern Division.

An affidavit deposed to by Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Diane MacArthur?, attached to the extradition request from the US government was said to be dated April 27, 2015.

By the US government’s charge against him, Kashamu allegedly conspired with others, “to intentionally import and did import into the United States”, quantities of mixtures containing heroin, between 1992 and 1995.

The offence for which Kashamu is allegedly wanted in the US, was said to have contravened section 952(a) of Title 21, United States Code, and punishable under section 960 of the ?same law.

According to the charge, the penalty for the offence on conviction under the law is an imprisonment of not more than 10 years? or a fine of up to $10million in the case of an individual, or both.

Meanwhile, in a bid to prevent Kashamu from evading arrest, armed operatives of the NDLEA had besieged his house and kept him under house detention for days.

The action of the agency was subsequently declared illegal by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, which ordered the operatives to immediately vacate his residence.

Justice Okon Abang, who gave the order on June 8, 2015, ?also voided the extradition proceedings, which he said, were initiated in total contravention of an earlier order of the court.

The nullification of the extradition process was also affirmed by another Judge of the same high court, Justice Ibrahim Buba, on June 23.

However, determined to ?extradite the accused chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the South-West, Kashamu, the drug agency approached the Abuja Division of the same high court with the application that was also dismissed on Wednesday.

While dismissing the application, Justice Kolawole accused the NDLEA of trying to move him to sit on appeal over two concurrent verdicts of the Lagos Division of the same high court, an action he said amounted to gross abuse of judicial process.

The judge held that he lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit ?while the two previous judgments that nullified the extradition process were yet to be set aside by a higher court.

Even though Justice Kolawole expressed his reservations against the decisions of the Lagos courts on the matter, saying they were “wild and audacious”, he however maintained that is the exclusive preserve of the Court of Appeal to determine whether the decisions were legally right or wrong.

Kashamu had through his lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, prayed the court on June 25 when the case came up for the first time, to dismiss the extradition application in view of the pending verdicts of the Lagos High Courts, which shares coordinate jurisdiction with the Abuja Division.

In a petition he earlier sent to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Kashamu, alleged that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was behind the plot to abduct him and forcibly take him to the US to answer to charges bothering on drug related offences.

The petition, dated April 15, 2015  was written on his behalf by his lawyer, Oluyede? and entitled: “Prince buruji Kashamu: Abduction Plans By United States of America Agents in Collaboration with Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria.”

Kashamu told the commission that regardless of several decisions both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, which exonerated him from the alleged offences, desperate politicians had been putting pressure on the Attorney General of the Federation to resuscitate the US indictment against him in Nigeria and to instigate an extradition process against him on the accusations.

He insisted that Obasanjo was spreading a new witch-hunt net over him as a form of revenge against him for the comprehensive political defeat he (Obasanjo) suffered because of Kashamu in the PDP.

Kashamu told the commission that the pressure on the AGF ?failed, a situation he said was owing to the absence of any document showing that he was  indictment in the US, nor any evidence that he was ever declared wanted both any authority in the US as required by the Extradition treaty in the US and the Nigerian Extradition law.

He said that several people close to the AGF had warned him to watch his back because there were moves to have him extradited to the US.

According to his lawyer, “Kashamu’s enquiry revealed? that indeed there had been moves by US officials within the region to secure the assistance of the head of the INTERPOL division in Nigeria, Mr Solomon Arase, a Deputy Inspector General, for the arrest and delivery to the US officials of Kashamu for transportation to the US without following the due process required by the Nigeria Extradition Act.

“Mr Kashamu’s informant revealed that Arase has confirmed that one Donna Chabot approached him in January 2015.

The said Ms Chabot is an Attache Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the American Embassy route Des Almedies BP 49 Dakar Senegal and requested that INTERPOL Nigeria assist in the abduction of Kashamu for the purpose of his forcible transportation to the US to face trial before Judge Norgel,” he added