A leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, has accused the United States judiciary of racism, vowing to fight on until he gets justice after a U.S. court ruled that Mr. Kashamu be prosecuted for drug trafficking.
A U.S. Court of Appeal had on September 15 dismissed an appeal filed by Mr. Kashamu seeking to quash his indictment for smuggling drugs into the U.S.
The court upheld an earlier ruling, in May, by a U.S. District Court which equally dismissed the motion filed by Mr. Kashamu, a close ally of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I wish to provide an update to Nigerians on my efforts to obtain justice within the U.S. judicial system in regard to the false indictment made against me in the U.S. Courts, which the British courts have cleared me from unequivocally,” Mr. Kashamu said, Thursday, in his first reaction to the appellate court’s decision.
“As many may recall I had to take the battle to the U.S. authorities in their own country because, despite the British judgment and the defeats they have suffered in their attempts to place a false accusation on me they have neither attempted to extradite me again nor withdrawn the charges,” he added.
Mr. Kashamu and 14 others were, in 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 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.
In the decision on the appeal by Circuit Judge Posner noted that Mr. Kashamu did not want to be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial on the “very serious criminal charges” against him.’
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 U.S.
“In that application to dismiss the indictment I requested that the findings and Conclusions of District Judge Tim Workman of the Bow Street Magistrates Court in London, be given collateral estoppel status by the U.S. court and his findings and conclusions be made conclusive on the issue of whether or not I was a party to the alleged crime,” said Mr. Kashamu.
“District Judge Norgle before whom the indictment was pending refused the application after ruling that I was not a fugitive from justice in the U.S.”
Charles Norgle of the U.S. District Court, in his decision, last May, had held that Mr. Kashamu had done everything within his power, including document forgery as well as political pressure, to frustrate his trial in the U.S.
“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 had 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 had added.
It was the Judge Norgle’s ruling that Mr. Kashamu had gone to the U.S. Court of Appeal to challenge.
The appellate court’s decision, last Monday, upheld that of the lower court.
“If he wants to fight the charges, he has only to fly from Lagos to Chicago; there are loads of reasonably priced flights….,” said Judge Posner.
“How then can he argue with a straight face that the failure of the United States to extradite him entitles him to dismissal of the charges? He can’t; and the petition for a writ of mandamus is therefore denied.”
Mr. Kashamu accused the judge of making some wide-ranging generalized statements, which were not borne out by the records.
“In that judgment Judge Posner held that the decision of the English Courts were not equivalent to that of the U.S. courts and so could not be regarded as binding on the U.S. courts,” Mr. Kashamu said.
“However, as the lawyers noted, U.S. courts expect their judgments to be treated better by foreign courts,” he added.