Buruji Kashamu was named in Mr. Obasanjo’s letter as a drug criminal.
A leader of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, has threatened a lawsuit against former President Olusegun Obasanjo, over Mr. Obasanjo’s damning letter to President Goodluck Jonathan in which he referred to Mr. Kashamu as a criminal wanted by U.S. authorities for drug trafficking and money laundering.
In his 18-page letter to Mr. Jonathan, Mr. Obasanjo accused Mr. Jonathan of ineptitude, corruption and fuelling political crisis, and cited the Kashamu’s case as a reflection of how impunity flourishes under Mr. Jonathan.
“By the government not acting positively and promptly in the case of Kashamu wanted in the US for drug trafficking and money laundering crimes, it is only confirming the persistent reports of complicity or involvement of high-level political figures in drug trafficking and condonation of the crime for political benefit,” Mr., Obasanjo said. “Whichever way, it is a very dangerous development for Nigeria.”
He continued: “Sooner than later, drug barons will be in control of large real estates, banks and other seemingly legitimate businesses; in elections, they will buy candidates, parties and eventually buy power or be in power themselves.”
Mr. Kashamu described the former president as an “ingrate” who squandered to best of opportunities to change Nigeria.
In a letter by Mr. Kashamu’s lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, addressed to Mr. Jonathan, the politician said he symphatised with the president over what he called the unprovoked public attack on the president’s integrity by Mr. Obasanjo.
“As for his libelous statements against our client, we have written this rejoinder in order to complete (sic) the record but we will not stop there, as we intend, pursuant to our client’s instructions, to commence an action in libel against Obasanjo in due course to punish him for continuing in this path of perfidy despite the latitude he has been given in the past,” the lawyer wrote.
The PDP leader said Mr. Obasanjo was the only Nigerian president surrounded by criminals as closest allies, especially during his two terms as civilian president of the country.
“The files of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, will confirm this as well as the results of the most recent successful prosecutions in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom,” his lawyer said in the letter.
“The state of our country today – be it in the ravaging corruption, the failure of state institutions, the economy and the polity – are easily traceable to Obasanjo’s own failures as a leader in this country. He, more than any other Nigerian, has had the most opportunity to turn the fortunes of Nigeria around and he failed woefully to do so.”
While arguing that the former president had no moral right to attack anyone, the lawyer lamented that Mr. Obasanjo used his client to wrestle power from former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel, who was becoming a thorn in Mr. Obasanjo’s political career, and dumped Mr. Kashamu thereafter.
“I have personally been involved with Obasanjo during the brief period before the 2011 elections when he relied on the successful activities of Prince Kashamu to take over the PDP structure in Ogun State and foist his candidates on the Party,” the lawyer, Mr. Oluyede, said.
“His daughter, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo, was also very close to Prince Kashamu during this period.”
“The Obasanjos were constantly in communication with me during this period as the solicitor to the leadership of the party. They were always full of praise for Prince Kashamu and readily cited the facts stated above about Prince Kashamu’s exculpation with regard to the false allegations of complicity in drug related offences in the US,” the lawyer stated.
Mr. Oluyede, however, refuted the drug allegations against Mr. Kashamu, saying it was a case of mistaken identity.
“He has never lived in or visited the United States of America and has never been involved in any narcotics or criminal activities in the United States of America,” he said.
“In 1998 as a result of his political activities in the Republic of Benin, he was wrongly introduced into an indictment in the Northern District of Illinois, United States of America involving a group of drug pushers – members of which had been arrested and convicted in 1994 in the US and as a part of a plea bargain transaction had indicated that they had a West African link.”
He said none of the criminals mentioned Mr. Kashamu’s name and repeatedly indicated to their jailers that they did not know their West African accomplice by any other name than Alaji.
“Apparently, the US embassy in Benin, which was facilitating the enquiry by the US Authorities as to who the “Alaji” could be, somehow received information from some mischief-makers that it was Prince Kashamu. Since he appeared to fit the profile, Prince Kashamu’s name was introduced into the indictment in 1998 by the US authorities.
“All this happened without reference to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency in Nigeria or in the other relevant West African countries in which the enquiries were being made and unknown to Prince Kashamu who at the time regularly visited the united Kingdom in pursuit if his cotton trading business in Liverpool,” he said.
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