From Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja,
Following the completion of the filing and exchange of court processes, the trial of embattled Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, Prince Buruji Kashamu, begins in earnest in nine days time.
The federal Government is seeking to extradite the serving Senator to the United States of America to face trial in a hard drug crime.
Kashamu in one of his count processes is praying the Federal high court to stop his extradition by the Federal government and the National Drug law Enforcement Agency NDLEA) on the ground that another court had granted him a restraining order to that effect .
In the alternative, the Ogun State Senator wants Justice Gabriel Kolawole to compel the AGF and the NDLEA to enter into an undertaking that he would not be transported to the USA for any offence so as not to commit a contempt of court on the strength of a favourable order he had secured.
But the NDLEA and the AGF in their separate counter affidavits prayed the judge to dismiss claim of the senator on the ground of being mis-leading, incompetent and a deliberate ploy to mis–represent the court decision in an earlier suit.
The positions of the Federal government and the NDLEA were reinforced by a recent USA Court of Appeal judgment which held that extradition of Kashamu will not breach any known law.
Kashamu filed the appeal suit but the court turned the table against him by affirming his indictment for heroine importation into the USA and that a valid warrant for his extradition is in force.
NDLEA which is the arrow-head in the struggle to extradite Kashamu in its counter affidavit insisted that no court in the country stopped it from extraditing the senator to the USA to face criminal charges on hard drugs importation.
NDLEA said what the Lagos division of the federal high court granted Kashamu in 2010 was that any plan to extradite him by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the NDLEA to the USA must be in compliance with the extradition Act, 2004.
In a counter affidavit filed by the NDLEA at the federal high court Abuja to oppose the claim of Kashamu that his extradition had been stopped in a judgment, the agency said that it was not a respondent to a suit with No. FHC/ABJ/CS/479/2015 which Kashamu alleged was disobeyed and which is sought to commit it and its chairman for contempt.
The NDLEA however said that in another suit by Kashamu with No. FHC/L/CS/49/2010 in which it was joined as a defendant, it raised a preliminary objection to the effect that the person sued as “Chairman Nigeria Law Enforcement Agency was a party unknown to law”.
In the counter affidavit deposed to by one Rifkatu Philip Barde, a litigation officer with NDLEA, the agency said that it was never at any point in the court judgment restrained from performing its statutory duties especially in relation to Kashamu’s extradition.
The counter affidavit read in part “that Hon. Justice E. O. Abang in his judgment in suit No. FHC//L/CS/49/2010 clearly stated that the delicate aspect of this case which the court must be extremely careful with here is that the allegations contained in the petitions against the applicant borders on allegations of commission of criminal offences by the applicant”.
“That police or any security agency cannot be restrained from discharging their statutory duties, a court of law cannot restrain the police or security agencies from discharging their statutory functions”.
The NDLEA averred that the court did not by any stretch of imagination grant a perpetual order of restriction in the matter or at large in favour of the applicant (Kashamu) in the court action he instituted in Lagos.
The NDLEA pleaded the judgment copy adding that Justice Abang categorically held that “the respondents cannot be restrained perpetually from arresting the applicant. What the respondents are hereby restrained from doing, that is assuming they can even act on any application for his extradition having regard to the substantive judgment, is unlawful arrest or abduction without a warrant duly issued in line with the Extradition Act as amended.
The anti drug agency said that “the decision of the court in the case of Kashamu did not shut the door to any lawful steps that may be subsequently taken to extradite him pursuant to the Extradition Act Cap. E, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004”.
NDLEA insisted that the claims of the Senator that he had secured a perpetual court order against his extradition are outright falsehood and the product of the deponent’s imagination.
The agency also averred that Kashamu “is in thev habit of indulging in deliberate distortion of facts to mislead the courts and over reach the course of justice by distorting facts and tendering enrolled orders as opposed to full judgment of courts”.
It further claimed that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) initiated extradition proceedings against Kashamu in line with due process and that the AGF Office is capable of acting in good faith by forwarding the petition against Kashamu to the NDLEA.
“The matter of requests for the surrender of fugitive criminals are serious matters capable of affecting the relationship between nations and may undermine a country’s international image if not handled with a high sense of responsibility and a high sense of judicial discretion exercised judicially and judiciously”, the affidavit further said.
The NDLEA claimed that the Senator has been using false text message to deceive court and that the call log obtained from the service provider did not support the claim of Kashamu on the alleged attempt to forcefully abduct him and ferry him to USA to face drug crime charges.
It then asked the court to dismiss the contempt proceedings filed by Kashamu for being a gross abuse of court process.
Kashamu representing Ogun West in the Senate had sought to initiate contempt proceeding before Justice Gabriel Kolawole against Ahmadu Giade, NDLEA and AGF for allegedly taking steps to extradite him to US in spite of subsisting court order.
At the last adjournment, NDLEA counsel Mr. Mike Kassa confirmed to Justice Kolawole that NDLEA had filed a counter affidavit to the applicant motion and had served same on the necessary parties while the AGF represented by Mr. Agbaji Ochai also made same claim.