The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the Federal Government seeking the extradition of the senator representing Ogun East, Buruji Kashamu, to the United States of America.
The Federal Government claimed to have received a request by the US Government to deliver Kashamu up for prosecution for his alleged role in an illicit drug deal in the US.
But Kashamu had in 2015 secured two separate judgments by Justices Okon Abang and Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court restraining the Federal Government from delivering him to the US.
But the Attorney General of the Federation approached the Court of Appeal seeking to overturn the judgments of Justices Abang and Buba, to pave the way for Kashamu’s extradition.
Counsel for the AGF, Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN), told the appellate court on Thursday that Kashamu concealed material facts before Justices Abang and Buba, where he obtained restraining orders against the Federal Government.
According to him, Kashamu’s suits, which were decided by Justices Abang and Buba, were based on mere hearsay, contending that the two lower court judges miscarried justice.
He claimed that Justices Abang and Buba failed to evaluate the documentary evidence placed before them before giving their verdicts.
Ngige urged the three-man Appeal Court panel, presided over by Justice Joseph Ikhegh, to overturn the two judgments and give force to Kashamu’s extradition.
But he was opposed by Kashamu’s lawyer, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), who insisted that the decisions by the high court judges were in order.
Fagbemi urged the court to dismiss the Federal Government’s appeal.
After the parties had argued and adopted their written addresses, the court reserved judgment in the appeal till a date to be communicated to the parties soon.
The move by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency to extradite Kashamu to the US in 2015 had hit a brick wall on account of a May 27, 2015 judgment of Justice Okon Abang, which was subsequently reaffirmed by Justice Buba on June 23, 2015.
Justice Abang, in his judgment, had 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.”
Justice 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 Federal Government could not arrest and extradite him to the US.
Kashamu had instituted the fundamental rights enforcement action in April 2015, 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 liberty, freedom of association and freedom of movement as protected by sections 35, 40 and 41 of the Constitution.
Some of the respondents in the suit were the Inspector-General of Police; the Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; Director General, Department of State Services; the Interpol National Central Bureau; and the Attorney General of the Federation.
Justice Abang, while restraining the respondents from making any move to arrest Kashamu in relation to the alleged drug-trafficking offence in the US, held that there was a subsisting January 6, 2014 court judgment against them which had neither been appealed nor set aside.
Kashamu had in 2010 filed the suit following a petition to the IG, the Nigeria Customs Service, DSS and the NDLEA by a group called the Concerned Citizens of Ogun State.
The group had, in the said petition dated December 18, 2009, said Kashamu fled the UK and escaped to Nigeria after serving a jail term for drug-trafficking and money laundering, adding that he was wanted by the US government.
The court, in a judgment delivered on January 6, 2014 held that the respondents could no longer act on any petition or extradition application from any country in the world in relation to the said drug-trafficking allegations from which two British courts had freed Kashamu.