A day after the Federal High Court, Lagos ordered the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, to vacate the premises of Ogun East Senator-elect, Prince Buruji Kashamu, another court of equal jurisdiction, has restrained the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, the NDLEA and eight others from arresting him for extradition to the United States of America over alleged drug offences.
While the restraining order was given by Justice Abang Okon yesterday, Justice Ibrahim Buba on Tuesday ordered operatives of the NDLEA, who had laid siege on the Lagos house of Kashamu, to vacate it with immediate effect.
Delivering judgment in a fundamental human rights suit filed by Prince Kashamu to prevent his extradition, Justice Okon said the order affects all the respondents: the NDLEA Chairman, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Director-General, Department of State Security, DSS, the INTERPOL National Central Bureau, NCB and the AGF.
Others are the Clerk of the National Assembly, the National Security Adviser to the President, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Nigeria Custom Service, NCS, the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.
In the suit, Kashamu prayed for an order restraining the defendants and their agents from arresting, detaining or otherwise effecting his abduction upon spurious allegations.
He specifically asked the court to direct the Clerk of the National Assembly to accord him every facility and privileges due to him as a Senator-elect of Nigeria.
Kashamu also sought the court’s declaration that arrangements being made by the defendants in collusion with United States of America security operatives in West Africa and his political opponents led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to abduct him and forcibly transport him to the US on the basis of allegations which have been the subject of investigation by Interpol and litigation in competent court in United Kingdom and concerning him which he have been exonerated are illegal, unlawful, ultra vires and constitute a breach of his fundamental rights to freedom of movement as enshrined in Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
The IGP and the INTERPOL in their counter-affidavit in opposition to the applicant’s motion said no cause of action was declared against them in the suit and that the judge cannot base his judgement on speculations.
The NDLEA said that it had not received any instruction from the AGF or anywhere to extradite the applicant.
The agency said it is not aware of any plan to forcefully transport Kashamu to the US for prosecution over alleged drug-related offences.
The EFCC Chairman and the Director-General of DSS, in their counter affidavit declared that they were not in collusion with the US government or Obasanjo or anyone to kidnap or arrest the applicant.
The AGF and the NIS in a written statement to support their counter affidavits said the applicant ought to have reported the matter to the police.
The AGF stated that Kashamu should have waited for a request for his extradition before rushing to the court. He then urged the court to refuse the application on the basis of the fact that the suit was wrongly commenced as a fundamental human rights enforcement suit.
Clerk of the National Assembly said he was not aware of any plan to abduct or transport Kashamu to the US to face drug charges and that there was no petition or request to him that the applicant should not be accorded his rights and privileges as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The ICPC and NCS did not file any objection to the processes served on them and they were not represented in court throughout the proceedings.
In his judgement, Justice Abang while dismissing the preliminary objections of the NDLEA, AGF, NSA, and the NSCDC, said for the purpose of determining whether or not a reasonable cause of action had been disclosed, he was enjoyed by law to accept the fact as presented by the applicant.
On the objections of the NDLEA, the court held that the insinuation by its chairman, Ahmadu Giade, that he cannot be sued, does not hold water.
The court held that the NDLEA boss is a natural person that can sue and be sued.
Justice Abang also dismissed the objections raised by the AGF, NSA and the NSCDC.
The court said the applicants claims are in line with the provisions of Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The claims of the applicant are fundamental rights claims and the court has the jurisdiction to entertain them,” the judge held.
Consequently, a cost of N10,000 was awarded against the NDLEA in favour of the applicant.
The same amount was also awarded against the AGF, NSA and the NSCDC.
The court went ahead to restrain the respondents from arresting Kashamu for a possible extradition to the United States for drug related offence based on an existing judgement of the court that was delivered on January 6, 2014.
In the judgment, the court had restrained the IGP, SSS, NDLEA, NCS and the AGF from taking any step from arresting Kashamu based on a petition linking him to a drug offence.
Justice Abang held that the order is still subsisting since there has been no order staying its execution.
“The respondents cannot in the exercise of their statutory powers, without appealing the earlier judgement, acts on any application seeking the extradition of the applicant”, the judge said.
Justice Abang, however declined to grant all the reliefs sought by the applicant that has to do with the involvement of a former Nigeria’s President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in his alleged planned arrest.
The judge said it noted that the alleged roles of Chief Obasanjo were mentioned in several places in the applicant’s motion and so it is compelling that the court should hear from Obasanjo.
“Obasanjo ought to have been joined and this would have helped the court in deciding whether or not to grant the reliefs. The court cannot agree with the applicant that Chief Obasanjo colluded with others to abduct him”, the judge held.
The court also turned down Kashamu’s request for a perpetual injunction against the respondents from assuming his position as a Senator.