Appeal Court okays Buruji Kashamu’s extradition to US
The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on Friday, set aside a Federal High Court order which perpetually restrained the Federal Government from arresting Senator Buruji Kashamu.
The appellate court also set aside another order which nullified a warrant for Kashamu’s arrest and prevented extradition proceedings from being commenced against him.
Buruji, who represents Ogun East in the Nigerian Senate, is wanted by the United States of America (U.S.A) to stand trial for alleged importation of hard drugs into the country.
On May 25, 2015, Justice Okon Abang of Federal High Court, perpetually restrained the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other agencies of the Federal Government from “arresting, restraining, detaining, attacking or otherwise effecting the abduction” of Kashamu upon charges based on allegations of drug trafficking levelled against him by the US Government.
Justice Abang also set aside and nullified a warrant for the Senator’s arrest for extradition proceedings issued by another Federal High Court judge, Justice Saliu Saidu.
The extradition attempt followed an Extradition Treaty between the Federal Government and the U.S.A.
But, dissatisfied, the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), appealed both decisions.
It argued, through its counsel, Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN), that Justice Abang erred in granting some of the injunctive reliefs.
It urged the appellate court to set aside both lower courts’ judgment arguing miscarriage of justice.
It further claimed that Kashamu suppressed facts before the lower court to secure the restraining order against his extradition.
But in his counter application of last November 7, Kashamu, through his counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Akin Olujinmi (SAN) and Hakeem O. Afolabi (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the AGF’s appeal.
In unanimous verdicts on Friday, and in two consolidated judgments, a three-man panel comprising Justices Yagarta Nimpar, Joseph Ikyegh and Anthony Ogakwu, upheld the government’s argument and upturned the lower court’s orders.
Justice Nimpar, who read the summary judgment, held that the lower court, having struck out several paragraphs in the affidavit relating to allegations that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was behind the Senator’s travails and alleged plans to forcibly extradite him to the US, the same court was wrong to retain other paragraphs of the same affidavit containing hearsay allegations against Dapo Abiodun and Godwin Obla SAN.
Justice Nimpar observed that the lower court relied heavily on speculations and conjectures in arriving at the judgment “which is not permitted in law.”
The court berated the lower court for not giving the AGF’s counsel opportunity to file a counter affidavit in opposition to the case file presented by Kashamu, when under the rules, they still had three days to react to the processes.
This infraction, Justice Nimpar held, nullified the entire proceedings.
Kashamu, however, said that he has no extradition case in court.
In a statement issued yesterday by his Media Adviser, Austin Oniyokor, Kashamu said the suit referred to in the report was an appeal filed by the Federal Government against a judgment delivered in his favour by the Federal High Court, Lagos.
“Let me state from the outset that contrary to the wrong impression being created by a section of the media, there isn’t any extradition matter against me in any court in Nigeria or abroad. The illegal move surreptitiously introduced by the powers-that-be after the 2015 abduction plot was exposed has been dismissed. That was in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/479/2015. The suit was dismissed on the 1st of July, 2015, for being an abuse of court process. Anything to the contrary is sheer mischief and over sensationalism by some reporters.