Extradiction Suit: Kashamu’s Fate Hangs in Balance as Court Decides July 2

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday fixed July 2 to deliver judgment in one of the two fresh suits instituted by Senator Buruji Kashamu which he is seeking order of court to stop the federal government from extraditing him to the United States of America (USA) for drug related offences.

The Judge who was billed to deliver the verdict in the suit Friday announced that the judgment was not ready because of the heavy workload of his court and would now be delivered on the adjourned date.

Justice Abang had on Thursday June 20, fixed June 27 for hearing in the second fresh suit on extradition filed by the Senator against plan to extradite him to the U.S.

Kashamu had instituted three new suits against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), praying that the two respondents be prohibited by the court from arresting, detaining and extraditing him to America.

In the instant suit filed by his counsel John Olusegun Odubela (SAN), Kashamu argued that his fundamental rights to freedom of liberty will be breached with the plan to transport him to USAto face trial unless the AGF and NDLEA are restrained from doing so.

He claimed in his originating summon that two staff of the NDLEA had alerted him of the moves by the two respondents to give effect to the extradition request of the American government against him.

However, the AGF and NDLEA in their separate responses prayed the court to dismiss the suit on various grounds.

Among others, the AGF informed the court that the former Senator had been abusing court process through filing of multiple suits on the same subject matter.

Counsel to AGF Gazali Tijani in his argument told Justice Abang that the same plaintiff had in 2013 and 2014 instituted two different cases on the same issue against the Federal Government, adding that judgments in the two suits were delivered in 2015 by a Federal High Court in Lagos.

He however said that the two judgments of the high court delivered in 2015 were on May 4 last year voided and set aside by the Court of Appeal Lagos division.

The counsel informed the Judge that Kashamu had since approached the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal.

He therefore urged the court to dismiss the fresh suit on the ground that it constituted a gross abuse of court process and that it is lacking in merit because it did not disclose any cost of action.

But the NDLEA in its opposition to the fresh suit told the court that Kashamu is wanted in the United States of America (USA) because of the 6.6kg of heroin he allegedly imported into the country in 1994.

The Anti-Drug agency claimed that Kashamu who represented Ogun East Senatorial District in the 8th Senate allegedly imported the hard drug to the USA in his capacity as the head of a large drug smuggling syndicate operating in Africa, Asia, Europe and America at the period.

In a fresh 54-paragraph counter affidavit filed at the court to oppose the innocence claim of the former Senator, the NDLEA averred that Kashamu was indicated for hard drug offence but escaped while his alleged co-offenders were arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment in America.

The counter affidavit is in respect of the fresh suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/536/2018 instituted by Kashamu and dated October 16th, 2018.

The affidavit deposed to by one Shehu Zakks Mohammed, a litigation officer with NDLEA and sighted in Court explained that following Kashamu’s escape, the American government in 2015 dispatched to the Nigerian government a request for the extradition of Kashamu through diplomatic channel.

NDLEA insisted that there is a valid and subsisting indictment against Buruji Kashamu in the United States’ District of Illinois, Eastern Division supported also with valid of arrest for the serving senator.

The affidavit read in part: “The applicant Mr. Buruji Kashamu is alleged to have violated Narcotic Laws of the United States of America by conspiring to import heroin into the country. Heroin is a schedule 1 Narcotic controlled substance under the laws of the USA.

“There is valid and subsisting indictment against the Applicant Mr. Buruji Kashamu in the United States’ District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

“On March 16, 1994 the Applicant was charged in the United States of America Vs. Buruji Kashamu, et al No. 94 CR 172 following the seizure of 6.6 Kilograms of heroin alleged to emanate from him.

“The applicant Buruji Kashamu was further charged with a second superseding indictment filed on May 21, 1998 for conspiracy to import heroin into the United States of America following repeated seizures of heroin similarly alleged to be emanating from him.

“A copy of the second superseding indictment and Arrest warrant for the fugitive issued by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois is contained in Exhibit NDLEA 1.

“That contrary to his depositions, the applicant has never been exonerated of any drug or related offence by any court of Nigeria, the United States of America (USA) of the United Kingdom (UK).

“That the paragraphs of the applicant’s affidavit that talk of exoneration of crime/charges of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs are false.

“That contrary to his depositions, the decision of the British Courts did not exonerate the applicant of any of the charges for drugs and related offences pending in the USA.

“That the two judgments of the British Courts were decided on technicalities based on the laws of the UK and did not go into the merits of the extradition charges relating to conspiracy and illicit traffic in narcotic drugs in the USA.

“That the judgment of the High Court of Justice (Queens Bench Division) in suit CO/2141/2000 delivered on 6th October 2000 was decided on an application for the exercise of the court’s prerogative writ to quash the committal order of the Metropolitan Magistrate on the grounds of suppression of vital facts in the Examination Request of the United States of America (USA).

“That the decision of the Bow Street Magistrate Court that carried out a further inquisition into the Extradition Request of the USA merely discharged the applicant on the impugned credibility of the identification witnesses.

“That contrary to his depositions the two magistrates of both the Metropolitan and Bow Street found as of fact that extraditable offences have been committed to justify the extradition of the applicant.

“That the claims of the applicant are unsubstantiated and should be dismissed with substantial cost.

NDLEA urged the court to dismiss the fresh suit on the ground that it constituted gross abuse of court process with falsification of facts in the judgments by London and American Courts.

Justice Abang sitting at the Lagos division of the Federal High Court had in 2015 in two separate judgments barred the Federal Government from extraditing Kashamu.

The two judgments were however on May 4 this year quashed and set aside by the Court of Appeal on the ground that they were based on hearsay evidence and suppression of facts by Kashamu.

Kashamu has since approached the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal which cleared the coast for the Federal Government to extradite him to the USA.

Author: News Editor

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