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Appeal Court to give judgment in extradition suit on Kashamu May 11

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From Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja

The Court of Appeal will on May 11 deliver a landmark judgment in the federal government’s appeal case seeking to extradite a serving senator Prince Buruji Kashamu to the United States of America (USA) for trial in a drug-related offence.

The appellate court is expected to give the make or mar verdict in the appeal case filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice Malam Abubakar Malami SAN, on behalf of the Federal Government.

The court had on March 8 reserved judgment in the high profile case, but sources confirmed that the verdict is now ready for delivery on May 11 and that parties in the matter have been well notified through the issuance of hearing notices.

The Attorney-general and Minister of Justice in the appeal case argued by his counsel, Chief Emeka Ngige SAN, praying the Court of Appeal to set aside the two Federal High Court Judgments obtained by Kashamu against his extradition by government and its security agencies.

The contention of government primarily was that the senator representing Ogun East in the Senate got the two judgments in the lower court from Justice Okon Abang on mere hearsay and speculation to frustrate his extradition as requested by the America government.

Specifically, the AGF claimed in the appeal that Kashamu suppressed facts before the High Court to secure the restraining order against the Federal Government.

The AGF also averred that Justice Abang erred in law by issuing order in favour of the senator without evaluating the documentary evidence placed before him during the hearing and urged the appeal court to void the two judgments and set them aside.

Ngige who cited several authorities in support of his submissions told the Appeal Court that the lower court ought to have declined granting of reliefs sought by Kashamu because the foundation of his suit was laid on hearsays from so many individuals.

He therefore urged the appellate court to set aside the decisions of the High Court so as to allow the federal government to execute the request of the USA government to extradite the senator to America.

But Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), who led Kashamu’s legal team comprising Chief Akim Olujimi SAN, Hakeem Afolabi SAN and a retinue of lawyers urged the court to uphold the judgment of Abang on the ground that it was based on fact and not hearsays.

Fagbemi submitted that contrary to the Federal Government’s claim, the fear expressed by Kashamu on the plan to extradite him to America was based on facts deposed to by well-wishers of the Senator.

After the adoption of their final arguments and adumbrations, Justice Joseph Ikhegh who presided over the matter had announced the decision to reserve judgment in the matter in view of the plethora of authorities cited by both parties in the matter.

Justice Okon Abang in his first judgment on the extradition matter delivered on January 6, 2014 against six respondents had stopped the extradition of Kashamu on the ground that due process of law was not followed.

The same judge in his second judgment on the same issue delivered on May 27, 2015 against 12 other respondents barred the respondents from sending the senator to America by force to go and face trial in his alleged indictment in an alleged drug offence.

The Federal Government had in 2014 moved to extradite Kashamu to USA to answer criminal charges filed against him in an American Court on drug offence.

The American government had approached the Nigerian Government to extradite the senator in line with the extradition treaty between the two countries.

But the Senator through his counsel rushed to the Federal High court with complains that the due process of law was not followed in the extradition process.

He claimed in his suit that the person indicted for the alleged drug offense was his younger brother who had a striking resemblance with him and who had since died.

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