The Federal Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, in two consolidated judgments today removed the legal roadblock, preventing the extradition to the United States of Ogun East Senator, Buruji Kashamu.
The appeal court quashed the perpetual injunction granted by Justice Okon Abang of Federal High Court on 25th of May 2015, which restrained the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and other agencies of the Federal Government from arresting, restraining, detaining, attacking or otherwise effecting the abduction of Senator Buruji Kashamu.
This was in connection with drug trafficking charges levelled against him by the United States Government.
The Appellate Court also set aside the order of Justice Abang that nullified the warrant issued for the arrest of Senator Kashamu issued by another judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja Federal Capital of Nigeria to pave way for the commencement of extradition proceedings against the senator at the Federal High Court Abuja.
In the unanimous lead judgement delivered by Justice Yagarta Nimpar to which the other justices in the panel of three, Justices Joseph Ikyegh and Anthony Ogakwu concurred, the appeal court upheld the argument of counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN that Justice Abang was in error in granting some of the injunctive reliefs sought by Senator Kashamu upon inadmissible evidence.
The court held that the trial judge having struck out several paragraphs in the affidavit relating to allegations that General Olusegun Obasanjo was behind the travails of the serving senator and the alleged plans to forcibly abduct him and extradite him to the United States, the same court was wrong to have retained other paragraphs of the same affidavit containing hearsay allegations against Mr Dapo Abiodun and Chief Godwin Obla SAN.
The Court observed that Justice Abang relied heavily on speculations and conjectures in arriving at his judgment which are not permissible in law.
The court further berated Justice Abang for not giving counsel from the Attorney General’s chambers the opportunity to file a counter affidavit in opposition to the case file presented by Prince Kashamu when under the rules they still had three days to react to the processes. The judges said this infraction nullified the entire proceedings.
The Court allowed the appeals and set aside the judgment and ruling delivered by Justice Abang on the 27th day of May and on the 8th day of June 2015 respectively.
It also set aside the consequential order by Justice Abang in which he nullified the warrant of arrest issued by Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court Lagos for the arrest and commencement of extradition proceedings against Senator Kashamu at the Federal High Court Abuja.
Senator Kashamu now representing Ogun East in the upper chamber of the National Assembly was represented on the appeal by three Senior Advocates-Prince Lateef Fagbemi, Chief Akin Olujinmi and Alhaji Hakeem Afolabi.
In a response to the Appeal Court ruling, Senator Buruji gave a different interpretation, saying that the judgment was not about any extradition matter against him in any court in Nigeria or abroad.
“’The illegal move surreptitiously introduced by the powers-that-be after the 2015 abduction plot was exposed has been dismissed. That was in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/479/2015. The suit was dismissed on the 1st of July, 2015, for being an abuse of court process. Anything to the contrary is sheer mischief and over sensationalism by some reporters.
“As journalists and judicial reporters who are expected to seek and report the truth at all times, they should know that there is NO extradition case against me anywhere. The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice appealed against the judgment of the Federal High Court in the fundamental human rights enforcement matter comprised in Suit No.FHC/L/CS/508/2015 which I had instituted in 2015 upon becoming aware of the surreptitious moves by certain persons to abduct me illegally and transport me to the U.S.A. without recourse to the rule of law.” (NAN)