The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Friday nullified a ruling by the Federal High Court (FHC) which prohibited the arrest of Buruji Kashamu by Nigerian law enforcement agencies. The court said the senator is not above the law and should be arrested if there is a need.
The appeal court panel led by Yargata Nimpar overturned the ruling which was delivered by Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in 2015.
Mr Kashamu, a serving senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, approached Mr Abang for the enforcement of his fundamental rights, saying he had uncovered a purported plot by Nigerian security agencies to abduct and extradite him to the United States.
Mr Kashamu is being sought in the U.S. on drugs charges, although he had continued to deny the allegations, saying it was, at worse, a case of mistaken identity.
In May 2015, the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) laid a siege to Mr Kashamu’s residence in Lagos in a bid to arrest and send him to the U.S. to face drugs charges. For the ensuing six days, Mr Kashamu reportedly locked himself inside a toilet and refused to submit himself to federal authorities.
His lawyers successfully prevailed on Mr Abang to grant an order forbidding the NDLEA from carrying out the arrest. The agency subsequently withdrew its personnel, ending the six-day siege.
The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation filed several submissions before the FHC, seeking to arrest Mr Kashamu for extradition. But the attempts were frustrated by several injunctions granted by Mr Abang, prompting the AGF to seek redress at the Court of Appeal.
Mr Kashamu had argued before the FHC that there were plots to arrest him and take him to the U.S. over a matter for which he had been cleared by judicial authorities in the United Kingdom between the late 1990s and early 2000s.
But U.S. authorities insisted that Mr Kashamu must come to the country to face drugs charges for which several of his alleged co-conspirators had been tried, convicted and jailed.
In 2016, a U.S. Court of Appeal in Chicago, Illinois, ruled that Mr Kashamu must answer his drugs allegations in U.S. courts.
Despite all the controversies surrounding Mr Kashamu’s case, the U.S. authorities have not publicly disclosed whether they sought Mr Kashamu’s extradition or not. But some legal analysts said there was no need to make such request public, adding that the NDLEA’s move to arrest him and send him to the U.S. was enough grounds to conclude that the U.S. was interested in the matter.
Yemi Oke, an associate professor of law at the University of Lagos who filed a watching brief in the case, provided the key highlights of today’s proceedings at the Court of Appeal to PREMIUM TIMES. The following decisions were delivered in Appeal No: CA/1030/2015- A.G FED V PRINCE BURUJI KASHAMU & ORS, and Appeal No.: CA/1030A/2015- A.G. FED. V KASHAMU & ORS.
• The preliminary objection filed by Mr Kashamu against the substantive appeals are dismissed as lacking in merits. The Court of Appeal held that the appeal filed by the Attorney-General against the ruling of the lower court is not statute barred.
On the substantive appeals:
• Court of appeal set aside the orders of perpetual injunction granted in favour of Mr Kashamu against the Nigerian government, the Attorney-General, the State Security Service, the Inspector-General of Police and the NDLEA.
• Court of Appeal ruled that the oral statements of threat of abduction and attempted transfer of Mr Kashamu to the U.S. is insufficient, having not been backed by concrete evidence.
• Court of Appeal also held that the Attorney-General is the chief law officer of the country and the chief law officer of the cause of justice and, as such, has the has constitutional and legal powers to enforce laws.
• Court of Appeal said the FHC should not have granted the injunction sought by Mr Kashamu on mere speculation of abduction and kidnapping.
Consequently, the Court of Appeal ruled that the appeal has merit and set aside the order of perpetual injunction secured by Mr Kashamu.
Mr Kashamu swiftly reacted to the ruling on Friday afternoon, saying in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES that the judgement had nothing to do with his extradition. He insisted that he had no pending extradition case anywhere in Nigeria.
Below is the senator’s full response as sent to PREMIUM TIMES by his media aide, Austin Oniyokor:
KASHAMU: I’VE NO EXTRADITION CASE IN COURT
My attention has been drawn to today’s judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos in an appeal filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) against the judgment delivered by the Federal High Court, Lagos, in my favour in a fundamental human rights enforcement suit.
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-beafter 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.
As journalists and judicial reporters who are expected to seek and report the truth at all times, they should know that there is NO extradition case against me anywhere. The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice appealed against the judgment of the Federal High Court in the fundamental human rights enforcement matter comprised in Suit No.FHC/L/CS/508/2015 which I had instituted in 2015 upon becoming aware of the surreptitious moves by certain persons to abduct me illegally and transport me to the U.S.A. without recourse to the rule of law.
In its judgment in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/508/2015,the Federal High Courtrestrained the Federal Government, its agents and agencies from abducting and forcibly transporting me to the United States of America over the same allegations that two British courts had adjudicated upon and found that to bea case of mistaken identity.
So, clearly what was appealed and decided upon by the Court of Appeal today has nothing to do with extradition. Rather, it was about the failed 2015 abduction.
Let me reiterate that in the face of the law, I do not have any extradition case to answer. Shun of all political manipulations and wizardry in Nigeria where political opponents pull down people to climb up the political ladder, I do not have any extradition case to answer.
I wish to say for the umpteenth time thatthere is no way any extradition proceedingscan be brought against me in the face of the law. What I have been fighting is the attempt to abduct or kidnap me in the guise of an extradition. It is a matter of public record that the purported extradition case that was filed against me in May 2015 was dismissed by the Federal High Court, Abuja,for being an illegality. It could not stand the test of the law. The case could not have seen the light of the day in Nigeria or any civilized country. That was the point the trial judge, the Honourable Justice Gabriel Kolawole made in the judgment when he described the incident as “a show of shame”. He found it incomprehensible that any government official or agency could want to take any step or collaborate with some foreign agents under any guise to perpetrate an illegality after several courts had given judgments against such an action.
So, in the face of the law, that case cannot be brought again! Any other talk or insinuations about a non-existent extradition only exists in the imagination of the mischief-makers. Therefore, there cannot be any other extradition but abduction and an illegality.
This is even more so when the judgment of the British Courts that found the allegation against me to be a case of mistaken identity was not appealed. If a court of competent jurisdiction has pronounced that I AM NOT the person who committed the offence and same verdict has been upheld by our own courts, there is no way this finding and pronouncements of the court can be jettisoned for illegality.
It is this illegality that the Senate frowned at in a resolution passed on the 11th of April, 2017.
The Senate through its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions resolved, “That the concerned agencies and authorities be advised to stop threatening or carrying out any activities to extradite Senator BurujiKashamu to the United States of America for prosecution, and that the courts be allowed to handle the various aspects of the case before them without any interference.”
Despite the fact that the British courts had exonerated me, I have an abiding faith and believe in our judiciary. We have many people in the judiciary from rich background and reputable families. They do not have to be judicial officers. But, today they are judicial officers because of the call of the Almighty Allah upon them. They sit in courts five days in a week, taking cases and writing judgments upon judgments in long hands. They deny themselves of the freedom that the rest of us enjoy. They cannot have friends and live their lives freely like the rest of us.
Invariably, by accepting to do the job most of us cannot do, they are sacrificing a lot. They belong in the class of some of the best and finest men and women that a society can ever ask for; powerful people yet self-effacing with the fear of God. They know that even when they are judges, they are still conscious of the fact that they are also accountable to the Almighty Allah who is the ultimate judge.
Despite the imperfections in the system, we should respect them because they represent the unseen hands and unheard voices contributing their quota to the development of our dear country. It is because of these unseen hand and unheard voices that Nigeria has not become a banana republic where injustice can be perpetrated with reckless abandon.
Mischief makers and blackmailers should stop all the noise-making. I do not have anything to do with crime and criminalities. Those peddling this lie are merely playing the devil’s advocate. But I take refuge in the Almighty Allah Subwana ta Allah. He is my shepherd and shield. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.
In the meantime, my lawyers have filed a Notice of Appeal and a Motion for injunction pending the determination of the appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. And I trust that the apex court will do justice. I also wish to use this medium to appeal to all my associates, lovers, supporters and leaders to remain calm. The truth shall prevail over falsehood as light triumphs over darkness.
Senator Buruji Kashamu
Ogun East Senatorial District