A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday restrained security agencies in Nigeria from unlawfully arresting and forcibly transporting the senator-elect for Ogun East Senatorial District, Mr. Buruji Kashamu, to the United States to stand trial for alleged drug-trafficking offences.
Justice Okon Abang, in a judgment on Wednesday, also ordered the unfettered swearing-in of Kashamu as a senator with all the attached privileges since his victory in the March 28, 2015 election had not been upturned.
The judge declared as illegal any attempt to abduct or forcibly transport Kashamu to the US to stand trial in relation to drug-trafficking allegations from which he had been exonerated by two British courts.
Abang also granted Kashamu’s prayer that having earlier obtained the judgment of a Nigerian court on January 6, 2014, barring his arrest and extradition to the US, and the judgment having not been set aside, the respondents could not arrest and extradited him to the US.
Kashamu had instituted the fundamental rights enforcement action in April alleging that there was a plot by his political opponents, led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to use Nigerian security agencies to abduct and forcibly transport him to the US to stand trial before Judge Norgle.
He sought a declaration of the court that the move amounted to a violation of his rights to personal liberty, freedom of association and freedom of movement as protected by sections 35, 40 and 41 of the constitution.
The respondents in the suit are the Inspector General of Police; the Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; Director General, Department of State Service; the Interpol National Central Bureau; and the Attorney General of the Federation.
Others are the Clerk of the National Assembly; the National Security Adviser to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission; Nigeria Customs Services; the Nigeria Immigration Service; and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
Abang, in his judgment, held that Kashamu had reasonable cause of action and dismissed the objection of all the respondents that the suit was merely speculative.
The court in upholding Kashamu’s claims, said he had shown enough cause to be apprehensive that the respondents had plans to abduct him.
“The entire claims of the applicant are within the ambit of Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution.
“If the applicant is abducted, kidnapped and taken to the US by force, without the respondents complying with the Extradition Act, it means that he is taken away without his consent and that would constitute a breach of his fundamental right to personal liberty and freedom of movement as enshrined in sections 35 and 40 of the 1999 constitution. This is so, whether or not the conspiracy is a criminal offence,” Abang held.
The judge dismissed the argument that the NDLEA Chairman, Ahmadu Giade, was not a juristic person and could not be sued. The court equally awarded N10,000 as cost against Giade.
Meanwhile, the NDLEA had indicated its readiness to abide by the order of court asking it to withdraw the more than 50 armed operatives it drafted to Kashamu’s Lagos home since Saturday, May 23, 2014.
The agency made the promise in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Mitchell Ofoyeju, on Wednesday.
It, however, failed to specify when its operatives would vacate Kashamu’s house.
As of 12pm on Wednesday when one of our correspondents visited Kashamu’s residence, the gun-wielding NDLEA officials were still there.
Some men of the agency were also seen lying on mats under the shade of a tree in front of the house.
Oladipo Omotosho Street, where the house is located and other adjoining streets were condoned off.