The extradition case against Senator Buruji Kashamu seems to be lingering longer than it should. OKECHUKWU JOMBO writes that there is more to it than meets the eyes.
Nigerians woke up three weeks ago to the news that then Senator-elect, Buruji Kashamu, was under house arrest by men of the Nigerian Drug Law enforcement Agency, NDLEA. It was unexpected because the issue had been in the front burner. The timing was what some pundits taught was wrong. Kashamu was a few days to be being sworn in as a Senator.
If he was arrested he would have missed the inauguration of National Assembly. No wonder when he appeared and answered present during the roll call his colleagues hailed him and clapped.
That is all history now he has been sworn in while the fight to either extradite him or let him serve out his tenure as a senator continues.
While at that new developments have emerged as the United Kingdom government has expressed its own findings through a letter it recently wrote to Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, through the British High Commission in Abuja, dated April 27, 2015. The UK government said that it was no longer interested in any matter concerning Kashamu, having discharged him in 2003.
The letter, which was signed by Mr. Robert Hunter, a Police Advisor of the High Commission in Abuja and addressed to ‘Solomon Arase, Inspector General of Police, Force CID Headquarters, Garki Area 10’, also disclosed that the accused person is not wanted in connection with any other offences within the UK jurisdiction.
In the letter UK Home Affairs in London, also disclosed that the British Magistrate who freed Kashamu in 2003 did so when he was not satisfied that there was a case for him to answer.
The letter added that this was why the United Kingdom authorities had decided to cancel the extradition request they received from the United States Justice Department.
“I understand that the US authorities are seeking his extradition but can confirm that we have no current interest in this matter and he is not wanted in connection with any other offences within our jurisdiction”, Robert Hunter said in the letter.
In a related development, the International Police (INTERPOL) had earlier cancelled the arrest warrant it imposed against Kashamu immediately it discovered that the US authorities had at the end of August, 2008 withdrawn their own Search Warrant.
But the US is insisting that Kashamu is the same person as Adewale Kashamu wanted by its security agents in connection with the trafficking of heroin into America for several years up till 1994. The NDLEA had also said that the US had sent a request to extradite him to face the charges.
Various Nigerian courts have intervened stopping NDLEA from extraditing him like the Federal High Court in Lagos which gave an order restraining security agencies in Nigeria from arresting and transporting the Senator for Ogun East Senatorial District to the United States to stand trial on the drug-trafficking offences. Justice Okon Abang, in a judgment declared as illegal, the arrest and extradition of Kashamu in relation to drug-trafficking allegations from which he had been exonerated by two British Courts.
The Extradition Treaty between Nigeria and the United States was signed on June 24, 1935 while it entered into force on June 24, 1935. The treaty was signed with the United States by the British colonial regime which then exercised dominion over the territory of Nigeria. When Nigeria obtained political independence from the Britannic Majesty in 1960 the treaty was, like several others, adopted by the federal government.
By virtue of Article 3 of the Treaty, extradition shall be reciprocally granted for crimes or offences such as murder, manslaughter, administering drugs or using instruments with intent to procure the miscarriage of women, rape, threats, by letter or otherwise, with intent to extort money or other things of value, larceny or embezzlement, fraud or fraudulent conversion, obtaining money, valuable security, or goods, by false pretences; crimes or offences or attempted crimes or offences in connection with the traffic in dangerous drugs.
Under the treaty, extradition shall not take place if the person claimed has already been tried and discharged or punished, or is still under trial in the territories of the High Contracting Party applied to, for the crime or offence for which his extradition is demanded. If the person claimed should be under examination or under punishment in the territories of the High Contracting Party applied to for any other crime or offence, his extradition shall be deferred until the conclusion of the trial and the full execution of any punishment awarded to him. Even though the treaty is silent on civil proceedings challenging the legal validity of the extradition of any person the exercise may be stayed or suspended if there is a court order to that effect.
By virtue of the Extradition Act Cap E25, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 the Attorney-General or a court shall not surrender a fugitive criminal if satisfied that the offence in respect of which his surrender is sought is an offence of a political character or that the request for surrender, although purporting to be made in respect of an extradition crime, was in fact made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his race; religion, nationality or political opinions or was otherwise not made in good faith or in the interests of justice; or that, if surrendered, he is likely to be prejudiced at his trial, or to be punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty, by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions.
In the legal parlance, a person is presumed innocent until proved otherwise. What informed the action of NDLEA officials to lay siege on the residence of the Ogun East Senator for days without any arrest warrant from authorised government institution? Why is NDLEA in a hurry to “abduct” Kashamu on Nigerian soil to the US without due process? Whose script is NDLEA acting? Is this national embarrassment by NDLEA officials not a slap on the face of our hard-earned sovereignty as a nation? Is NDLEA trying to sacrifice Nigeria’s sovereignty on the altar of local politics, because its leadership does not like Kashamu’s face and his political ideology?

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