Senator-elect Buruji Kashamu has filed a lawsuit at a Federal High Court in Lagos, capital of Lagos State, in a bid to forestall his extradition to the United States of America to face drug-related charges.
Mr. Kashamu, a close associate of President Goodluck Jonathan and winner of the Ogun East senatorial seat in Ogun State, will tomorrow commence argument in a legal case to enforce his right against extradition.
US prosecutors in Chicago, Illinois have named Mr. Kashamu as the fugitive kingpin in a high-profile drug smuggling ring that inspired a bestselling memoir, Orange is the New Black, as well as a sensational Netflix TV production based on the case. But the flamboyant Nigerian politician, who styles himself “Prince” Kashamu, has eluded US law enforcement authorities more than 15 years since they cracked the drug smuggling case.
With President Jonathan, his chief ally, about to exit from office on May 29, Mr. Kashamu has apparently decided that his safest bet is to use the courts to fight his extradition.
Two notable lawyers, Alex Izinyon and Ricky Tarfa, filed Mr. Kashamu’s 92-paragraph affidavit. The senator-elect, who won on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has named twelve defendants in his legal action. Those listed as defendants in the case include Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the director of the Department of Security Services (DSS). Other defendants are Interpol, National Central Bureau (NCB), the Attorney General of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, the clerk of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, the National Security Adviser to the Nigerian President, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Nigerian Customs Services, the Nigerian Immigration Services and The Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps.
Details of the case showed that the senator-elect identified himself as a businessman and listed his address as Plot 1228 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria.
His affidavit disclosed that he was incarcerated in Brixton Prisons in London from 1998 till January 10, 2003 when Judge Tim Workman ruled that the allegations by US authorities against him pertaining to the importation of narcotic involved a case of mistaken identity and that there was no “prima facie” case that he was the person referred to as “Alaji” by those apprehended in the US and who had indicated that they had a West African collaborator.
Mr. Kashamu’s affidavit noted that, after Judge Workman’s judgment October 6, 2000, he was re-arrested and faced a second extradition proceeding in the UK. It added that, January 10, 2003, Justice Tim Workman again ruled in his favor, leading to his release. He thereafter returned to Nigeria to start his business.
The lawsuit alleges that he was persuaded to join partisan politics because of his philanthropic activities, adding that his political activities had brought him powerful enemies, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mr. Kashamu claimed that he and Mr. Obasanjo worked as political allies for some years, adding that they fall apart in 2012 after he took a stand in favor of “internal democracy” in the PDP. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Obasanjo felt embittered after he and other PDP members resorted to litigation to loosen Mr. Obasanjo’s group hold on the party.
He alleged that Mr. Obasanjo retaliated by targeting him with intense propaganda, including creating the impression that he had been convicted for drug-related offences in the United Kingdom. In addition, Mr. Kashamu claimed that INTERPOL had investigated drug-trafficking allegations against him in 2008, culminating in INTERPOL’s conclusion that he was never declared wanted.
Mr. Kashamu further accused Mr. Obasanjo of pressuring Nigeria’s attorney general to have him extradited to the US. He also claimed that the former president had boasted that he was making arrangement with some U S officials have him abducted and flown in a private plane to the US.
His affidavit named current IGP, Solomon Arase, and officials of the Homeland Department in the US of plotting his abduction and transportation to the US.
The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Obasanjo had made plans to have him arrested and flown to the US during his swearing in as senator on May 29, 2015.
Senator-elect Kashamu’s lawsuit also contends that the AGF cannot act on any extradition request from the US in view of an appeal before the Nigerian Supreme Court on the legality of such requests.
The lawsuit disclosed that Mr. Kashamu was concerned that the incoming administration of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari could be used to perpetrate illegality and subvert the Nigerian judicial system.
Among other reliefs, Mr. Kashamu’s lawsuit seeks an order restraining the defendants and their agents from arresting, detaining, or otherwise effecting his abduction on a spurious allegation; an order directing the clerk of the National Assembly to accord him every facility and privileges due to him as a senator-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; a declaration that arrangements being made by the defendants in collusion with the United States of America security operatives in West Africa and his political opponents led by Mr. Obasanjo to abduct him and forcibly transport him to US on the basis of allegations that had been the subject of investigation by Interpol and litigation in a competent court in the United Kingdom, which led to his exoneration, be deemed illegal and unlawful.