Obasanjo sends Jonathan, PDP, documents on Buruji Kashamu’s drug case

President Goodluck Jonathan (left), ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

These are the six documents Obasanjo sent to Jonathan and the PDP to nail ex-political ally, Buruji Kashamu.

In a bid to nail his estranged political associate, Buruju Kashamu, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has sent six incriminating documents to President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to support his claim that Mr. Kashamu is wanted in the United States of America over a drug related offence.

The damning documents, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, include court papers and proceedings as well as local and international newspaper clips on the allegation made against Mr. Kashamu, a chieftain of the PDP in the South West geo-political zone where the former president hails from.

Mr. Obasanjo had in a letter dated January 7 to the immediate past National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Bamanga Tukur, and Mr. Jonathan, threatened to withdraw his participation in the activities of the party at all levels if it not did stop treating Mr. Kashamu with reverence.

In the three-paragraph letter, the former president said on no account should Mr. Kashamu, who he described as a known habitual criminal wanted abroad for crime, be extolled as a political leader in a respectable and wholesome nation-building political party.

He said the way Mr. Kashamu was being extolled by PDP was unsavoury, insisting that politics played by any national political party must have morality, decency, discipline, principles and leadership examples as cardinal principles.buruji-kashamu

“Since I stick in my practice of party politics to the hallowed and cherished principles enunciated above, I take this opportunity to let you know that while I continue to remain a card-carrying member of PDP,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

“I cannot and I will not subscribe to a wanted habitual criminal being installed as my zonal leader in the party; a criminal for whom extradition has been requested by the US Government.

“I will consider withdrawing my activity with PDP at Local, State, Zonal and national levels until the anomalous and shameful situation is corrected.”

The former president sent a copy of the one-page letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, who he addressed as the National Leader of the PDP.

Mr. Kashamu has since fired back alleging that Mr. Obasanjo was crying foul because he had lost relevance in the PDP.

He detailed his relationship with the former president, including how he used to enter Mr. Obasanjo’s bedroom and how he donated huge sums of money to the church and other projects the former president embarked upon.

In his reply to Mr. Obasanjo, the former PDP chairman explained how Mr. Kashamu assisted the party financially and became a rallying point of its members in the South-West zone.

Short of begging Mr. Obasanjo not to quit the PDP, Mr. Tukur said the former president still had more roles to play in the party and urged him and other leaders from the zone to build a strong consensus for that purpose.

Mr. Jonathan, on his part reportedly spoke with the former president on telephone.

PREMIUM TIMES has now obtained a copy of a bunch of documents Mr. Obasanjo sent along with his January 7 letter to Messrs Tukur and Jonathan.

The documents were marked serially and packaged to convince the president and the party that Mr. Kashamu is a wanted man with which a serious political party should have no dealings.

One of the documents, a clip of the Chicago Tribune newspaper edition of November 14, 2013, marked No 1 by Mr. Obasanjo quoted the U.S attorney’s office as saying Mr. Kashamu “is still wanted on charges alleging his drug ring moved millions of dollars worth of heroin from Europe and Southeast Asia through O’Hare International Airport during the 1990s.”

The article authored by David Heinzmann also said that while Mr. Kashamu’s lawyer was trying to clear the politician’s name in Chicago, he had “become a player in Nigeria’s chaotic politics.”

It added, “He runs a faction of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party near the capital, Lagos, and is frequently quoted criticizing other politicians in the West African country. Recently, newspapers there have reported that the Nigerian courts are reconsidering whether to extradite Kashamu to the US.”

Another clip of a Nigerian newspaper, Vanguard, which the former president submitted reported in its edition of November 27, 2009, that at a time when the United Nations Office on Drugs and Corruption was expressing deep concern about illicit drug trafficking in West Africa, the U.S. Government and a Chicago Court had linked and traced an alleged drug smuggling kingpin to Nigeria and declared him a fugitive, although the alleged kingpin was believed to be a citizen of neighbouring Benin Republic.

The report, “US Government traces wanted drug kingpin, Kashamu to Nigeria, said in paragraph 2, “According to Empowered Newswire Nigeria, a name came up in a recent court ruling by Judge Charles Norgie of the US District Court in Chicago, who upheld the indictment of a Beninoise multi-millionaire, Mr. Buruji Kashamu by the U.S. Government for drug smuggling charges and heroin importation conspiracy for which some of his co-conspirators have been jailed and served prison terms already.”

It said in another paragraph that, “Mr. Buruji Kashamu has since been indicted twice in the U.S., according to court papers. Two weeks ago, Buruji, whose residency in Nigeria was said to have been established by the U.S. government, according to court papers, is frantically fighting the charges asking the court to reconsider its recent decision to uphold the charges and reject his motion to quash a bench warrant for his arrest.”

Another report in ThisDay Newspaper’s edition of July 8, 2013, titled “Appeal Court vacates injunction against Kashamu,” which Mr. Obasanjo also sent to Messrs Tukur and Jonathan, said “A three-man panel of justices at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has set aside an order of perpetual injunction granted in favour of a chieftain of the Ogun State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Buruji Kashamu.”

Mr. Obasanjo also sent in an 18-page summon from the U.S. Court of Appeals Court for the Seventh Circuit. In the court paper, the US is listed as Plaintiff Appellee and Mr. Kashamu, the Defendant Appellant.

Suit No. 10-2782 has the title “Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Division No. 1:94-cr-00172-15-Charles Norgie, Sr., Judge; Argued May 3, 2013 – Decided September 1, 2013.”

The paper filed before Posner Kanne and Tinder, Circuit Judge said, “This appeal requires us to consider the collateral estoppel effect, if any, of findings made by foreign courts in extradition proceedings. Back in May 1998 defendant Kashamu returned by a federal grand jury in Chicago with conspiracy to import and distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C S963. He was indicted both in his own name and under what the government believed to be two aliases that he used “Alaji” and “Kasmal”.

“But he could not be found. He had not been arrested; he did not jump bail; his whereabouts simply were unknown. The government did not ask that he be tried in absentia. The case proceeded against the other defendants (except for one who like Kashamu could not be found) and all of them were convicted.”

The court paper also said, “In December 1998, Kashamu surfaced in England and was arrested as our government’s Justice Department lawyers, working with their English counterparts, sought his extradition to the United States to stand trial.

In February 2009, the papers said, Mr. Kashamu filed a motion in the district court in Chicago to dismiss the indictment against him on the ground that the English magistrate had found that he was not “Alaji” and that the finding should be given collateral estoppel effect in the criminal proceeding and that if this was done he could not be convicted and therefore shouldn’t have to stand trial. The district judge denied the motion, precipitating this appeal.”

In another document “Letters Blogatory: The Blog of International Judicial Assistance by Ted Folkman of Murphy and King, which Mr. Obasanjo marked No. 6, and titled Case of the Day: US V. Kashamu November 1, 2011, Mr. Kashamu was said to have been indicted by a grand jury in Illinois in 1998 for conspiracy to import and distribute heroin.

The 10-page document opens thus: “Buruji Kashamu, a Nigerian national, was indicted by a grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois in 1998 for conspiracy to import and distribute heroin. The indictment named him under his own name and under two supposed aliases “Alaji” and “Kasmak.” Kashamu’s whereabouts were unknown. His co-defendants were tried and convicted. Later in 1998, the government found Kashamu living in England, and the government there arrested him at the request of the US. The Justice Department sought his extradition. The extradition proceedings were “incredibly protracted,” lasting until 2003. The English judge refused to extradite him. Kashamu left England and is believed to have returned to Nigeria.”

The document shows that a metropolitan magistrate once ordered him held pending extradition, though Mr. Kashamu applied for writ of habeas corpus.

It also states that the South West politician once sought dismissal of the indictment. It says, “Kashamu, who must have felt he had not had enough transnational litigation for his liking, moved to dismiss the indictment after his return to Nigeria on the grounds that the English judge, in refusing to extradite him, had found that he was not “Alaji” and that the English judge’s finding of fact should have conclusive effect. Judge Norgie, the presiding judge in Chicago, denied the motion and Kashamu appealed.”

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