Sunday, 29 January 2017

[NG]Kashamu: I’ve no case to answer

The senator representing Ogun East, Buruji Kashamu, has said it will be illegal to initiate another extradition proceedings against him for drug dealing allegations in the United States.

He said 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, Kashamu said the ruling by a US Appeal Court was twisted by the media, adding that his travails were politically motivated.

Kashamu said the ruling was to the effect that the US police were 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 suit 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 fugitives could be extradited, which he was not.

The senator urged the Federal Government to resist a sinister bid by his political enemies to extradite him at all cost.

He also wants the government to defend the country’s territorial integrity, saying a situation where British investigators come to Nigeria for investigations and take 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 by his political opponents to call a dog a bad name to hang it.

The senator recalled that while on a business trip to the UK 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 was 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 nlet alone a criminal activity whatsoever in the US,” he said.

He said his lawyers came across some exculpatory evidence, which the US government concealed from the courts in the extradition proceedings.

The evidence, he said, was the outcome of a photo identification parade to identify Alaji held in the US Attorney’s Office.

Kashamu said: “They took a mug shot of me and placed it with seven other photographs of black males, who had facial hair similar to mine and were about my age too.

“After viewing the photo lineup, Fillmore, one of the accused, said 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 began 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 October 6, 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 began a second extradition proceeding at the Bow Street Magistrate Court in England before District Judge Tim Workman.

“Just before judgment was delivered, 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.

“The Bow Street Magistrate Court delivered its judgment on January 10, 2003 wherein Judge Workman concluded that the new identification evidence produced by the US government was worthless and unreliable and that I was not the person involved in the narcotics transaction 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 began 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.

“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.

“I consequently filed an application for the enforcement of my fundamental rights. The court subsequently heard arguments in respect of the originating motion and reserved judgment to be delivered on May 27, 2015.”

Kashamu said the belated extradition proceedings initiated by the Federal Government did not include a request for his extradition by 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.

“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 a N11billion deficit that I am still battling to offset,” he said.

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