Following the house arrest of senator-elect from Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the United States Department of Justice has said it is “fully ready to assist” Nigeria with proper documentation on his extradition and express trial before a US District Judge in Chicago, Judge Charles Richard Norgle.
The NDLEA had, through its Head of Public Affairs, Mr. Ofoyeju Mitchell, disclosed that the agency’s men invaded Kashamu’s residence in Lekki, Lagos State last Saturday in response to the extradition request formally made to the Nigerian government by its American counterpart.
However, in a brief chat with LEADERSHIP yesterday, the trial judge, Norgle, said the Justice Department is “fully ready to ensure that an express hearing is given” to the case once Kashamu is brought before him to face the charge.
Apart from using the name of his younger brother, Adewale Kashamu – who the accused had claimed is dead – to obtain a Nigerian passport with registration number A870428 to transport drugs from Nigeria and the Federal Republic of Benin into the United States of America for several years up till 1994, Norgle said Kashamu, the leader of the drug cartel which had its base in Chicago, Illinois, had also used pseudo names like ‘Alhaji, Kasmal and Daddy’ for the illicit deals. The international passport was issued on April 20, 1990 in Abuja and it expired on April 19, 1995.
Other members of the drug cartel who are presently observing jail terms in different US prisons are Emmanuel Ugbade, Toun (surname not ascertained), Nicolas Fillmore, Cleary Wolters, Ellen Wolters, Oumiou Samadou, Gbenga Giwa and Akim Shokunbi.
Further investigations by LEADERSHIP revealed that the US Department of Justice had, penultimate Monday, made a formal request to the Nigerian government to “expressly and legally extradite Price Buruji” to America to face criminal charges.
The investigation also discovered video proofs which the United States legal department is willing to tender before Norgle as parts of the body of evidences showing that the accused had been going in and out of America to conduct drug-related business, contrary to his claims that he had “never stepped feet” on the soil of the country.
Kashamu was arrested in Britain in 1998 and held for five years before he was unconditionally released in 2003 by the Royal Court of Justice in England presided over by Lord Justice Pill and Mr. Justice Bell. The judges said that they were releasing the accused person who, upon his arrest, had over £350,000 in his possession, because the US Justice Department could not substantiate its claims that he (Kashamu) was the most wanted Alhaji Adewale Kashamu who was allegedly mentioned by others arrested as their principal conspirator.
He was arrested upon his arrival at the Heathrow International Airport with a Nigerian passport bearing Buruji Kashamu, but the UK judges dismissed it as a case of mistaken identity, stressing that the Chicago prosecutors had also tainted their eyewitness identification evidence by failing to disclose that one Nicolas Fillmore, one of the co-defendants, failed to pick him (Buruji) out of a photo line-up.
NDLEA Fails to Produce Kashamu in Court, as Judge Summons AGF, others
Meanwhile, Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday summoned the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, as well as the chairman of the NDLEA to explain why they disobeyed a court order on the planned extradition of Kashamu.
Justice Ibrahim Buba issued the summons after hearing in chambers a committal application filed by Kashamu’s counsel, Ajibola Oluyede, over the action of the NDLEA operatives, who stormed the house of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP ) chieftain on Saturday to arrest him to fulfill a request by the US government for his extradition. According to the agency’s head of public affairs, Mitchell Ofoyeju, Kashamu had insisted that the NDLEA “must produce a warrant of arrest in line with the extradition treaty” before he can be taken to court.
Oluyede said the court presided over by Justice Buba, after hearing the originating motion on notice for committal of the AGF and NDLEA chairman, which was filed before the court pursuant to Order 35 of the court’s civil procedure Rules of 2009, the judge ordered both the AGF and NDLEA to appear before it by 12 noon on Tuesday (today).
In the contempt proceeding instituted against the respondents, Kashamu wants the court to declare the action of the AGF and the chairman of the NDLEA as criminal by the steps taken so far on the matter.
A declaration that the invasion, destruction of property, harassment, humiliation, arrest and detention of the applicant by the NDLEA at the instance of AGF from May 23, and any extradition proceedings commenced thereupon undermines the integrity of the judicial process invoked in the suit No FHC/CS/49/2010 and FHC/CS/508/2015 and the judicial powers exercised by the court by its judgment of January 6, 2014 and order of April 4, 2015 in both action respectively.
However, Justice Buba, in his ruling, certified true copy of which was obtained by LEADERSHIP, held that in view of the urgent nature of the matter and in the light of subsisting judgment and court orders, “instead of hearing an ex-parte application, the respondents (Adoke and Giade) are ordered to appear in court on 26/5/2015 at 12.00 noon in order to be heard and in view of the subsisting judgment and court orders, time be and is hereby abridged for the respondents to appear. This order and the motion on notice shall be served unfailingly,” Justice Buba ruled.