By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, Buruji Kashamu, has said it would be illegal to initiate another extradition proceedings against him over drug dealing allegations in the United States of America as similar cases had been dismissed by two United Kingdom courts and a Federal High Court in Nigeria.
At a briefing in Lagos at the weekend, he said the ruling by a US appeal court was twisted by a section of the media, adding that his travails were politically motivated.
Kashamu said the ruling was to the effect that the US police was free to initiate extradition proceedings against anyone in collaboration with a local police.
“But that does not mean the court is telling them they have the right to enter into our territory to arrest me. That does not mean our police will say come and kidnap him.
“But what we are saying is that they cannot bring another extradition against me, because the ones they brought to London were dismissed; the one in Nigeria was dismissed,” he said.
Kashamu said allegations of illicit drug dealing in the US were baseless because he had never been to America, adding that only fugitive could be extradited, which he was not.
The senator urged the Federal Government, which he said believes in the rule of law, to resist a sinister bid by his political enemies to extradite him at all cost, which would amount to an abduction.
He also wants the government to do more to defend the country’s territorial integrity, saying a situation where British investigators for instance, come to Nigeria to conduct investigations, to the extent of taking witnesses away to testify abroad, must no longer be tolerated. “Can we do that there?” he asked.
Kashamu described the reports as the latest in a series of efforts orchestrated by his political opponents to call a dog a bad name so as to hang it.
The senator recalled that while on a business trip to the United Kingdom in 1998, he was arrested at City Airport in London and detained pursuant to an arrest warrant issued on the basis of an indictment in the US in which the name Alaji had been introduced as a party to an alleged offence of importation of narcotics.
“I have never visited or resided in the U.S and certainly have never been involved in any business not to talk of a criminal activity whatsoever in the US,” he said.
He said his lawyers came across some exculpatory evidence, which the US government had concealed from the courts in the extradition proceedings.
The evidence, he said, was the outcome of a photo identification parade for the purpose of identifying the Alaji held in the US Attorney’s office.
Kashamu said: “They had taken a mug shot of me and placed it with seven other photographs of black males who had facial hair that was similar to mine and were about my age too.
“After viewing the photo lineup, Fillmore, one of the accused, said that the third photograph in the lineup looked like a bad photograph of the man they were looking for.
“He also declared that the second, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth photographs did not at all look like the said Alaji; my mug shot was the seventh in the lineup; that was one of the photographs that Fillmore said did not at all look like the wanted kingpin.
“So, my lawyers immediately commenced a Habeas Corpus ( a recourse in law whereby a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment before a court) application in the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench division, for my release and the vacation of the committal order made by the Court.
“The English High Court in its judgment delivered on the 6th of October 2000, agreed that the order for my committal was null and void having been the product of unfair proceedings in which the U.S. Government had suppressed exculpatory evidence.”
Kashamu said the US authorities did not appeal the decision but re-arrested him and commenced a second extradition proceedings at the Bow Street Magistrate Court in England before District Judge Tim Workman.
“Just before judgment was delivered in the proceedings, the U.S. Government offered me a plea bargain by which they agreed to let me off with a suspended or short sentence if I would stop fighting the extradition proceedings.
“This offer was passed through Thomas Durkin, a U.S lawyer representing me. I rejected the offer out rightly, making it clear that I would never plead guilty to a crime I did not commit.
“The Bow Street Magistrate Court delivered its judgment on the 10th of January 2003 wherein
District Judge Tim Workman came to the conclusion that the new identification evidence produced by the US Government was worthless and unreliable and that I was clearly not the person involved in the narcotics transaction for which the indictment was made in the US and should thus be discharged,” the Senator said.
Kashamu said there was a conspiracy against him, which culminated in a failed attempt to abduct him in 2015.
“When I became aware of these moves I commenced an action at the Federal High Court in Lagos against the AGF seeking an interpretation of the Nigerian Extradition Act and determination of some questions as to whether the AGF could exercise his powers under that Act against me
“The Federal High Court in a judgment delivered in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/938/2010 found that the AGF could not exercise any power against me under the Nigerian Extradition Act when I had been found not to be involved in any alleged crime in the US and because I am not a fugitive.
“Prior to this, I had been elected a Senator. My political foes who were coincidentally dealing with a major defeat at the presidential elections sought to sink with as many people as they could.
“So, they schemed to prevent my swearing in as a senator by all means including the plan to have me abducted and transported to the U.S over an alleged extradition request from the United States in respect of the same indictment over which the British courts had exonerated me.
“I consequently filed an application for the enforcement of my fundamental rights in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/508/2015. The court subsequently heard arguments in respect of the originating motion and reserved judgment to be delivered on the 27th of May 2015.
“Notwithstanding the pendency of the suit, over 50 armed and masked operatives of the NDLEA invaded my residence in Lagos on Saturday, the 23rd of May 2015, breaking down and destroying windows, doors and gates to gain entrance.
“They harassed and intimidated me and members of my household including my pregnant wife and infant children. When the attempt to abduct me failed due to media exposure, they detained me in my house,” he said.
Kashamu said the belated extradition proceedings initiated by the Federal Government did not include a request for his extradition y the US authorities as prescribed by the Nigerian Extradition Act. It was on that basis, he said, that the provisional warrant of arrest was set aside.
“Put succinctly, in view of the facts that I was arrested and detained on the request of the American Government between 1998 and 2003, and two British courts found that I was not the person being sought and freed me, after two extradition proceedings, the Federal Government, its agencies or any of its officers ought not to entertain any purported extradition or abduction.
“Yet, they made another move in May 2015 which was dismissed by the Federal High Court, Abuja. It is trite that once a case has been dismissed, it cannot be filed in court again. There is no way American court can override British and Nigerian courts.
“Therefore, any attempt to condone or allow abduction in the guise of an extradition is an illegality and affront on our sovereignty, the rule of law, international and municipal laws.
“I am an employer of labour with hundreds of employees who also cater for their immediate and their extended families. I have had more than enough distractions since this needless harassment began.
“I could hardly focus on building my businesses and the consequences on my bottom line and cash flow have saddled me with an N11billion deficit that I am still battling to offset.