By: Bolaji Adeniji
That the NDLEA has renewed its perennial effort to illegally extradite Senator Buruji Kashamu to the USA on a purported drug related indictment is no longer news. It is also public knowledge that the British courts on two occasions and three Nigerian courts, have at different times also discharged Senator Kashamu of any complicity in the trumped charges, which according to the argument of the Senator, was a case of mistaken identity; and thus, should not be given away to the US drug authorities as that will amount to multiple jeopardy and travesty of justice.
Nonetheless, we are amused at the obstinate desire of NDLEA to effect his transfer to the US based on a provisional warrant of arrest issued in 1998 and for which he has been cleared in an exhaustive trial for five years while being incarcerated all through the period. Why is NDLEA bent on this hatchet assignment? Is this latest push coming from America or is it some forces in Nigeria that are adamant on seeing the back of the Senator? The answer to these questions might have been answered today through the appearance of the NDLEA spokesperson, Mr. Mitchel Ofoyeju on TVC this morning 01/02/2017, where he made some curious statements.
Ofoyeju among other things said, “whereas our agency is not oblivious of the UK judgments and the Nigerian judgements, Senator Kashamu still needs to go the US to clear his name”. We are then asking, on what ground will Kashamu still go to the US after being cleared in UK and Nigeria? Again, Ofoyeju while answering a question from the TV presenter said, “Yes he was cleared by the UK based on mistaken identity but he nevertheless needs to go to the US with proof of death of his late brother, video of burial ceremony and maybe with an elder in the family to testify on the death”. How ludicrous!
Is it within Ofoyeju’s purview to determine the authenticity of the mistaken identity claim and why is the agency eager to put Kashamu on a plane to the US? From the above verified statements from the NDLEA spokesman, it is clear that the mandate before the agency is to bring Kashamu down at all cost, even if it means using extra-constitutional means like they did after the 2015 elections when the agency stormed the senator’s house in an ungodly hour, to forcefully abduct him without a valid extradition order and without the leave of a Nigerian court; as provided for in the international extradition treaty to which Nigeria is a signatory.
Gladly enough, Ofoyeju agrees that it will take the express permission of a Nigerian court before Senator Kashamu can be extradited and that the agency will seek to vacate the earlier orders of the courts. We believe that it will be a herculean task for the agency to achieve this, because the UK judgments have neither been appealed nor vacated; and same applies to the Nigerian judgements. Moreover, the concealing of exculpatory (facts that absolve) evidences by the US authorities serves as a bad case for them against Kashamu and that was why the UK court did not grant the US its extradition request at the initial trial that spanned five years. It was on this same foundation that the Nigerian courts have also adjudicated in Kashamu’s favour.
From the preceding paragraph, there appears to be a consortium of effort right from Nigeria to America, to see Senator Kashamu put away behind bars but as it were, their case is bad and ‘non sequitur’ (doesn’t follow logic) before the law. The political bias of the NDLEA is becoming more pronounced by the day and Ofoyeju has given out this bias publicly today. All well meaning Nigerians must rise up to condemn this brutish attempt to punish a benevolent Nigerian over internal political squabbles. We all know the capacity of the US to get whosoever it really wants, irrespective of the person’s location worldwide and the case of Rafiu Elele who was whisked away from Nigeria to the US three years ago comes fresh in memory; and that was because he had a case to answer.
Kashamu has no case to answer again and the US knows that his case has suffered a technical death which is why it has only put up lame effort in requesting Kashamu. Unfortunately, the loudest noise is coming from Nigeria. kashamu is not a fugitive and is not runnig from a US trip but he understand the elaborate conspiracy against him and like any sane person will act under the circumstance, he wont walk into a deliberate trap. How does anyone expect Kashamu to submit to the US drug agency that already has a bias against him to the extent of hiding evidences that could have finally freed Kashamu of any indictment? How can one jump into a cage that has a lion that is licking its mouth already in anticipation of blood? Indeed it amounts to jumping into fire, as Kashamu himself correctly put it.
Conclusively, Nigeria and the United States are sovereign democratic nations that thrive on the principle of rule of law and fundamental human rights. The drug agencies of both nations must known that it cannot act outside the precincts of the law and neither can they trample on the rights of Senator Buruji Kashamu as guaranteed under the law. The NDLEA particularly must be patriotic and not overzealous in pushing its own national into the ravenous hands of international cannibals. The NDLEA must not lend itself as a willing tool in the hands of political bucanners that are fixated on seeing Kashamu go under. Senator Kashamu is not immuned from prosecution if indeed he is guilty of any offense but the current case is one that his traducers see as a lifeline of attack.
The rule of law must prevail and the NDLEA must not be seen as playing the cards of desperate politicians.
Bolaji Adeniji is the State Publicity Secretary of Ogun PDP.