A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed an application filed by the Federal Government seeking to arrest and extradite Sen. Buruji Kashamu to the US to face drug related charges.
The FG’s suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/479/2015, was filed on May 28, 2015 by the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN).
The suit was sequel to a request by the US for Nigeria to surrender Kashamu to face drug related charges before the United States District Court for the Northern Illinois, Eastern Division.
Kashamu is wanted in the US for allegedly conspiring with others to intentionally import “and did import” into the United States” quantities of mixtures containing heroin, between 1992 and 1995.
Delivering ruling on the application, the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, dismissed it forthwith for lack of jurisdiction and abuse of court process.
Justice Kolawole held that the suit was filed after orders were made by Justices Ibrahim Buba and O.E Abang of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on the same subject matter.
This, he said, had robbed him of jurisdiction to entertain the case and constituted a gross abuse of court process, since the Lagos Federal High Court was of coordinate jurisdiction with that of Abuja.
He said: “The instant suit was initiated in flagrant abuse of and disobedience to the orders made by Justices Abang and Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which have extinguished the current action by the applicant.
“It is in the interest of Justice and our jurisprudence that I do not dabble into the case by granting any orders for the arrest or extradition of the respondent.
“Therefore, to accede to the applicant’s request would be against the legal concept of judicial precedence and res judicata.
“This suit is, hereby, dismissed, with no orders made as to cost against the applicant.’’
Mr Mohammed Hassan, counsel to the Federal Government, had at last Thursday’s resumed hearing of the extradition application, prayed the court to issue a bench warrant of arrest against Kashamu for him to appear in court to face the extradition case against him.
Kashamu’s counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), in his submission, urged the court to strike out the matter, arguing that the orders made by Justices Ibrahim Buba and O.E Abang of the Federal High Court, Lagos have extinguished the current action by the prosecution.
He urged the court to give effect to the orders made by the two courts and strike out the matter as filed by the prosecution.
Hassan, however, urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the defence counsel, saying that Federal High Court in Lagos has no supervisory jurisdiction over Federal High Court in Abuja.
According to him, at the time the orders were made in Lagos, extradition process had not been initiated.
Hassan, therefore, prayed the court to nullify the orders of the Federal High Courts in Lagos, pointing out that a court of coordinate jurisdiction can nullify an order made in error by another court.
The US accuses Kashamu of conspiring with others to intentionally import “and did import” into the United States” quantities of mixtures containing heroin, between 1992 and 1995.
The offence is said to contravene Section 952(a) of Title 21, United States Code, and punishable under Section 960 of the same law.
The offence attracts an imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of $10 million in the case of an individual or both.