PDP chieftain, Buruji Kashamu, must face trial for drug trafficking, U.S. court rules

“Kashamu’s ability to manipulate Nigerian officials, or at least his ability to create forged documents, was also apparent from the proceedings.”

A United State District Court has denied a motion by Buruji Kashamu, a chieftain of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in Ogun State, to quash his indictment for smuggling drugs into the States.

According to a copy of the ruling obtained by Sahara Reporters, Judge Charles Norgle held that Mr. Kashamu, a close ally of President Goodluck Jonathan, had done everything within his power, including document forgery as well as political pressure, to frustrate his trial in the U.S.

Mr. Kashamu and 14 others were, 1998, charged by a federal grand jury for their alleged involvement in an international conspiracy to smuggle heroin into the US.

But the politician, a major campaigner for President Goodluck Jonathan in the South West, allegedly fled to the U.K. where repeated efforts by the U.S. to extradite him failed, before he returned to Nigeria.

“Kashamu’s actions in the London extradition proceeding created a paper and testimonial trail that his brother, and not himself, was the defendant charged in the instant case,” Judge Norgle said in his 17-page ruling.

“Kashamu’s ability to manipulate Nigerian officials, or at least his ability to create forged documents, was also apparent from the proceedings. This maneuvering, and the wall of protection Kashamu built around himself, made it clear that efforts to extradite Kashamu from Nigeria would be futile.

“It was testimony and evidence produced by the Nigerian government which led to Kashamu’s release in England. Furthermore, Kashamu’s status as a political figure in Nigeria and his relationship with Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan likewise suggest that an extradition attempt would have been futile,” the judge added.

In 2009, Mr. Kashamu had, through a local counsel in the U.S., filed a motion to quash the arrest warrant and to dismiss the indictment against him on the ground that the English court had found that he was not the one charged with smuggling drugs into the US.

Two years later, he filed a follow-up motion arguing that his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial had been violated and that the U.S. government had violated his Fifth Amendment right to due process because it lacked personal jurisdiction over him.

In his ruling, Judge Norgle noted that the Seventh Circuit cautions against ‘broad pronouncements’ with respect to the Constitution’s ‘extraterritorial application.’

“While Kashamu could raise these arguments if he was present in the United States, his continued presence in Nigeria weakens his claim to Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights,” the judge said.

The court also blamed Mr. Kashamu for the 15-year delay in his trial in the U.S., attributing it to “the damage he created to the government’s ability to extradite him from Nigeria.”

According to the U.S. prosecution team, during Mr. Kashamu’s extradition proceedings in the U.K., he claimed that he was a co-operator with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and that his brother, Adewale, was the drug trafficker wanted by the United States.

However, while the prosecution received letters and affidavits from the NDLEA denying having a relationship with Mr. Kashamu; the suspect produced a letter from the same agency stating that he had “been very helpful to us in the area of fighting crime and we are surprised that he is being incarcerated on wrong accusations of drug trafficking in the UK.”

“When the (US) Government inquired about this inconsistent letter with the NDLEA, it was informed that the letter is ‘bogus’ and that ‘the contents are absolutely false.’

“This pattern of conflicting evidence and witness testimony continued throughout the extradition proceeding. Ultimately, the magistrate relied upon Kashamu’s evidence and released him,” the judge said.

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