By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The Federal government has told the Supreme Court that Prince Buruji Kashamu has been harassing it with multiple court cases in the bid to frustrate execution of the extradition request against him by the United States of America over alleged hard drug trafficking offence.
Government complained that in a desperate ploy to stop the extradition, Senator Kashamu has engaged in gross abuse of court process by instituting multiple suits in different high courts in the country on the same subject contrary to the provisions of the law.
The apex court has therefore been asked to invoke section 22 of the Supreme Court Act to take over the cases and resolve them along with the two pending appeals filed by Kashamu in Supreme Court in 2018.
In a motion on notice, the Attorney General of the Federation AGF applied that since the multiple cases centred on same subject and same parties, the court should apply the force of law to stop the abuse of court process and harassment.
The multiple suits listed as abuse of court process are FHC/L/CS/930/2018 pending before Justice Chukwu Aneke and FHC/ABJ/CS/530/2018 as well as FHC/ABJ/CS/536/2018 pending before Justice Okon Abang at the Lagos and Abuja divisions of the federal high court.
Government claimed that two other suits filed by Kashamu in 2014 on the same extradition matter and same parties had travelled from high court to Court of Appeal and now pending before the Supreme Court for final determination.
AGF claimed in the motion that Kashamu was engaging in forum shopping against the law, desperately looking for order of court that will favour him and urged the determination of all the suits along with the substantive appeals.
Kashamu in his opposition to the motion however claimed that the new cases were filed based on fresh evidence available to him that the federal government has applied for fresh extradition request from the American government against him.
Kashamu had in 2014 ignited a long drawn legal battle against government at the federal high court to thwart the request of the American government that he be extradited to USA to answer criminal charges filed against him in respect of an alleged heroine drug importation into the country.
Ten others said to have been involved in the alleged drug offence were said to have been tried, convicted and sentenced to various prison terms while Kashamu reportedly escaped to Nigeria prompting the extradition request for him.
The Court of Appeal in Lagos had in May last year upheld the appeal filed by the AGF and dismissed the two judgments of high court granted in favor of Kashamu prompting his movement to Supreme Court.
In the pending main appeal, he had in his notice of appeal to Supreme Court complained that the Court of Appeal erred in law by dismissing the two judgments of the Federal High Court which barred Federal Government from extraditing him to America.
The ex-senator is praying the Apex Court to set aside the decisions of the Court of Appeal as they affected him.
But government through the AGF has joined issues with him with a counter prayer that the Supreme Court should uphold the judgments of the Court of Appeal which cleared coast for his extradition.
The AGF claimed that the Appeal Court was right in dismissing the two judgments of the High Court because they were based on hearsay evidence of Kashamu before the court.
The AGF urged the Supreme Court to allow the judgments of the Court of Appeal to enable the federal government extradite the Senator to USA to prove his innocence or otherwise in the hard drug trafficking criminal charge filed against him by the American government since 2015 when he was alleged to have escaped to Nigeria.
Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN is leading the legal team of the Senator while Chief Emeka Ngige SAN is leading the Federal Government legal team at the Apex Court.
The Court of Appeal had on May 4 2018 cleared the coast for the federal government to extradite Kashamu who had engaged government in a long drawn legal battle since 2014.
The appellate court in the two separate judgments voided and set aside all orders made by a Federal High Court between 2014 and 2017 restraining the government from proceeding with the extradition.
Justice Joseph Ikyeghi in the Appeal Court judgments marked CA/L/1030/15 and CA/L/1030A/15 held that the orders granted Kashamu by Justice Okon Abang were invalid and unknown to laws because they were based on hearsays and speculations by Senator Kashamu.
The court held that the hearsay that a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was instigating the extradition was not established under any law.
The appeal court said that an affidavit deposed to by Kashamu on the issue was worthless and not in compliance with Evidence Act because the senator himself claimed that he was told by several persons who were not called to testify in court.
Justice Ikyeghi held that Justice Abang in his two judgments on the issue erred in law by playing undue reliance on affidavit that contravened Evidence Act to give judgment against the Federal government.
Consequently, the order of injunction stopping the extraction process was voided and set aside.
Justice Ikyeghi had agreed with counsel to the Federal Government Chief Emeka Ngige SAN that a statutory body like the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) can only be prohibited from performing its statutory functions based on facts and not hearsays and speculations as in the instant case.