By Samuel Ogundipe
A Federal High Court sitting at the nation’s commercial city of Lagos has ordered the operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, to vacate the Lekki, Lagos, residence of Ogun State Senator-elect, Prince Buruji Kashamu.
Men of the nation’s anti-narcotics department stormed the home of the top PDP politician on Saturday, but he refused to submit himself for arrest. The officials were unable to provide a warrant of arrest when his attorney, Prince Ajibola Oluyede, hastily arrived his client’s home and demanded for one.
The men, who were mostly masked and hooded, maintained siege on Kashamu’s home throughout the weekend, and by Monday his attorney approached the court to demand that federal officials who participated in the siege be held in the contempt of court.
Kashamu had previously secured a court judgement which restrained all federal agencies from arresting him. This was on the basis of his fundamental human rights.
On Tuesday, the attorney again returned to court to demand that the NDLEA should vacate his client’s property and stop future harassment, these prayers were subsequently granted by the presiding judge, Ibrahim Buba.
His attorney has maintained that his client is a target of U.S. abduction because that country’s authorities have no reasonable cause to extradite him legally.
The United States has an extradition treaty with Nigeria that dates back to 1881 and updated in 1935. But to execute an extradition, the extraditing country usually demands for basic evidence that ties the accused to the charges against him from the requesting country.
But Oluyede maintains up until now that there’s no extradition request from the government of the United States to the authorities of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the person of Buruji Kashamu. The attorney-general says he received a request from the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, but has not presented it to any court, disclose the content of the request or say when it was actually delivered.
Kashamu has been a target of the United States of America since 1998 over his alleged involvement in a drug ring.
He was put through a rigorous trial that lasted five years, between 1998-2003, in the United Kingdom after he was arrested there on a transit flight. He was in custody throughout the legal battle.
In his ruling on the 10th of January, 2003, the presiding magistrate, Justice Tim Workman, CBE, who’d approved extradition of many criminals to the U.S. from Britain, accused the U.S. authorities of suppressing evidence that could exonerate the accused and consequently discharged Kashamu.
Opinions are divided on wether Kashamu should be taken to the United States or not. While many argue that the man’s activities are enough to assume his guilt; others maintain that he should get his day in court because Nigeria is a constitutional republic.
Among those who want Kashamu “bundled” and sent to America is Mr. Femi Falana, a Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activists.
Mr. Sabella Abidde, a U.S.-based Nigerian social critic opines that politics must be set aside and Mr. Kashamu should be availed all his rights under the law, especially since he’d been previously tried for the same offense in the United Kingdom.