By Akinwale Akintunde
The Court of Appeal in Lagos yesterday gave the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) the nod to begin the extraction process of Mr. Buruji Kashamu, the senator representing Ogun East senatorial district to the United State of America (USA), to face drug related charges offences.
The three man-panel of the court while delivering judgments in the two separate appeals filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) against the ruling of the Federal High Court in Lagos restraining NDLEA and other security agencies from arresting and extraditing the senator, nullified a ruling by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Lagos which prohibited the arrest of Kashamu by NDLEA.
The court said the senator was not above the law and should be arrested if there is a need.
The court therefore upheld the federal governmentâ€™s appeal by setting aside the earlier judgments delivered by Justice Abang.
The panel led by Justice Yagarta Nimper also set aside the ruling of the lower court nullifying the extradition warrant issued against Kashamu.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court had on May 25, 2015, restrained the NDLEA and other agencies of the federal government perpetually from arresting, detaining, attacking or otherwise effecting the abduction of Kashamu upon charges based on allegations of drug trafficking levelled against him by the United States Government.
Justice Abang also set aside and nullified the warrant for the arrest of Kashamu by Justice Saliu Saidu
However, in unanimous decision delivered yesterday by Justice Nimpar, with Justices Joseph Ikyegh and Anthony Ogakwu, upheld the argument of the 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 Kashamu upon inadmissible evidence.
The appellate court also 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 senator and the alleged plans to forcibly abduct him to the US to face drug charges, 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 permitted in law.
The court further chided Justice Abang for not giving counsel from the Attorney-Generalâ€™s chambers the opportunity to file a counter affidavit in opposition to the case file presentedÂ by Kashamu, whenÂ under the rules they still had three days to react to the processes, adding that this infraction nullified the entire proceedings.
The Court of Appeal allowed the federal government appeals, set aside the judgment and ruling delivered by Justice Abang onÂ May 25, and on June 8, 2015 respectively.
It also set aside the consequential order by Justice Abang in which he nullified the warrant of arrest issued by Justice Saidu of Federal High Court Lagos for the arrest and commencement of extradition proceedings against Kashamu at the Federal High Court Abuja.
Reacting to the judgment yesterday, Kashamu said there was no extradition matter against him in any court in Nigeria or abroad.
He added that the illegal move surreptitiously introduced by the powers-that-be after the 2015 abduction plot was exposed had been dismissed in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/479/2015.
The senator noted that the suit was dismissed on July 1, 2015, for being an abuse of court process, adding that anything to the contrary was sheer mischief and over sensationalism by some reporters.
He said: â€œAs journalists and judicial reporters who are expected to seek and report the truth at all times, you should know that there is no extradition case against me anywhere. The office of the AGF 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 US without recourse to the rule of law.
â€œIn its judgment in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/508/2015,the Federal High court restrained the federal government, its agents and agencies from abducting and forcibly transporting me to the US over the same allegations that two British courts had adjudicated upon and found that to because of mistaken identity.
So, clearly what was appealed and decided upon by the Court of Appeal today has nothing to do with extradition. Rather, it was about the failed 2015 abduction.
â€œLet me reiterate that in the face of the law, I do not have any extradition case to answer. Shun of all political manipulations and wizardry in Nigeria where political opponents pull down people to climb up the political ladder, I do not have any extradition case to answer.â€