Buruji Kashamu, the senator representing Ogun East senatorial district in Ogun State, has not stopped to be in the news as his legal tussles with the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the United Statesâ€™ authorities continue. Following the recent Court of Appealâ€™s ruling against him, Kashamu speaks with THISDAY about justice and respect for the rule of law as he fights to clear his name in the face of the federal governmentâ€™s plan to extradite him to the US
Having lost your lawsuit on appeal, it will appear that the latest court ruling has cleared the way for the authorities to start again the process of your extradition. Apparently, this would be considered a setback. What does this mean for you?
If you could ask me this question it is an indication that you asked the question based on what you have been reading in the newspapers as written by other journalists like you. But what a lot of people do not know is that they did not take their time to read and carefully follow what has been going on since this case began. The case in question that they are talking about which has now been set aside by the Court of Appeal does not have anything to do with the extradition in question. If you could remember, the real extradition â€“the purported extradition case â€“ was brought up on May 28, 2015 â€“a day before the previous administration (of President Goodluck Jonathan) left office. And, that purported extradition case was dismissed on July 1, 2015 by Justice Kolawole in Abuja. That judgment is still subsisting â€“there has not been any appeal against it. Similarly, that judgment has not been set aside. Also, the fact that the purported extradition has been dismissed â€“you know that if a case has been dismissed â€“there is not any case of extradition again that can be brought against that dismissal.
This is the judgment (shows copies of court papers containing the courtâ€™s judgment) in case you want to quote from it. That is just a part of the big picture. Actually, the case that was allowed by the Court of Appeal was a judgment of a case of fundamental human rights in which an earlier judgment was obtained by me through the Federal High Court â€“and, that lawsuit involved the Attorney General of the Federation (Abubakar Malami), the NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency), the Nigeria Immigration Service and other related agencies. The reason for that case was that I was involved through information that certain people were to abduct me and thereafter ship me out of Nigeria. It was for that reason that I went to court to exercise my fundamental human right.
The reason why they allowed the appeal, according to those honourable justices of the Court of Appeal, it was that they turned it into speculation instead of which, of course, in the exercise of oneâ€™s fundamental human rights, one has the freedom to go to court. Therefore, the issue of whether the planned abduction was a speculation or was not a speculation does not arise on any fundamental human rights because the constitution allows that. I do not see any reasons for them (the Court of Appeal) to have set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court. That judgment is binding on the Attorney General of the Federation, NDLEA, and the other law enforcement agencies â€“that they cannot take certain steps against my person. But that does not mean that with that they have a right to do so because as I speak with you, I still have two judgments obtained from courts (which are in my favour) which are even much stronger than the other judgments.
The Interpol was involved in all this and a letter was issued â€“they did a lot of investigations and in all this I was cleared and the judgment was delivered based on that â€“that cannot be speculation. The same judgment is tying the hands of the Attorney General, NDLEA and other security agencies. We still have those judgments; they have not been appealed since almost five years ago. Add to that, we are still having the Justice Kolawole judgment that dismissed the first extradition case brought before the court. My brother, that is the truth of the matter; apart from that, there was no time I was summoned by any court of law that I had to answer to an extradition case based on the two judgments in London, the United Kingdom, which exonerated me â€“that was in 2010. It will interest you to know that in one of the judgments of the Magistrateâ€™s court, some agents of the NDLEA were present at the British court to give evidence.
And, I do believe that there is no way those officers could go to London after the Magistrateâ€™s court issued a subpoena against them without (such subpoena) passing through the Attorney General of the Federation to obtain a fiat. So, if they (the NDLEA officers) were in London giving evidence, confirming that I knew nothing about the allegations made against me, why are they still pursuing me? After the court had declared that I was not the person they were looking for and the case was dismissed â€“with no prima facie case was established against me â€“and that it was a case of mistaken identity — that judgment is binding on American and Nigerian governments which the office of the Attorney General of the Federation does not have a legal backing to even obtain or receive or treat any extradition request from the United States without asking them (the US government) the full disclosure of that extradition case â€“and the full disclosure of what had transpired in Britain if there is any superior court order that has set aside those two judgments. If there is none, then that means that there is not any extradition case against me. Any attempt to do that is illegal â€“null and void and I believe it cannot stand any legal scrutiny in Nigeria.
What is the next step for you?
First of all, right from that day that the Court of Appeal dismissed the previous judgment, we had appealed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. That is number one. Number two: I have just replied to you that with the judgment of the UK court and the judgment of Justice Kolawole that dismissed the purported first extradition case and the judgment â€“Judgment 49 â€“that we have in our hands at the moment, any attempt (by the government to get me extradited) is illegal. The whole Nigeria should know that.
So, why does this case keep coming up every now and then despite the favourable court judgments you just mentioned?
It is political. The reason is political. You can see by the letter of the British Embassy (in Nigeria) which was addressed to the former Nigerian Inspector General of Police (Solomon Arase), it was made clear that I won the case in London while the judge in London declared that I was not the one the American authorities were looking for. Here are copies of the cases â€“of the two judgments in London (hands copies of the lawsuit documents to THISDAY). You can also have the copy of the Federal High Court, Lagos. You can also have the copy Justice Kolawoleâ€™s ruling when I was trying to register the judgment that even confirmed that there is no way they can bring an extradition lawsuit against me based on the ruling from Britain. You can also have the document of the court ruling that dismissed the purported initial extradition case.
I quote what the British High Commission in Nigeria wrote in its letter to the Nigeria Police: â€˜I have examined the documentation supplied in respect of Buruji Kashamu. The copies are authentic and I can confirm that the Mr Kashamu was arrested upon entry into the United Kingdom and remanded in custody. He was subject to an extradition hearing at Bow Street Magistrates and represented by Keir Starmer QC who later became Director of Public Prosecutions. The Magistrate was not (notice that the â€˜notâ€™ was clearly underlined) satisfied that there was a case to answer and the extradition request was rejected. 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.â€™ Plain and simple.
There is a letter being circulated that appears to be written through the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, telling the US government how to go about expediting action as regards your extradition. What do you have to say about that?
I was surprised when my attention was drawn to that letter on the Internet which is now being circulated freely â€“trending online. The letter was dated July 14, 2016 with reference number CAU/EXT/080/15 which has gone viral on the social media and has, therefore, become a public document. In that letter, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation wrote to the US Ambassador â€“the head of the American Mission in Nigeria â€“talking about the need to process and to re-submit a fresh extradition request package. And, that letter was attached to a memo dated June 9, 2016 in which the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, DPPF, directed the Central Authority, CAU, to write to the US Embassy (in Nigeria). I cannot imagine or believe that any reasonable person could write another country to come and extradite his fellow citizen who is innocent. To this moment, it is hard to imagine or believe that such a letter was actually written. We all know and I am drawing the attention of all Nigerians to the fact that the letter is an abuse of office and it is illegal. Nonetheless, I make bold to say that with that letter on its own, no extradition lawsuit can even be brought against me in Nigeria â€“because it will be brought in bad faith. Can any attorney general embark upon an extradition case without a letter to appear before any court in Nigeria? It is going to be a show of shame.
Have you reached out to the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to avail him of all the judgments in your favour?
He (Malami) knows; he is aware of those judgments. However, I am preparing another letter to send to him now â€“ which I am going to send to him to remind him that all powers belong to the Almighty Allah. He should use his good office to do justice. Between now (Thursday
) andÂ Monday
Â the letter will surely be in his office; and some other letters (and documents) will be sent to him by my lawyers.
How have these legal tussles as well as the NDLEAâ€™s invasion of your home affected you and your ability to adequately represent your constituency?
These court cases have affected me and my family a lot. It is not easy â€“ any time I remember â€“what I had to go through when the NDLEA and other security agents unlawfully invaded my home and subjected me and my family to both mental and physical trauma. Whether I am sitting alone, I am with my family, walking, or I am in my car or in the (legislative) chamber it strikes my heart and paralyses all my body (parts). Sometimes, my blood pressure rises up to 240/120. I always move around with medications to suppress the pressure. I have never experienced this kind of situation in my life before. My family and I are being subjected to image battering, unwarranted apprehension and perpetual fear over an allegation that I have been exonerated of after being detained for four years (in the UK) and subjected to all manner of inhuman conditions. The first time I won the London case, I was released and I was re-arrested. The same day they took me to the Magistrateâ€™s court and it took me another two years and I won the second case.
For somebody to tell me now that I should go and face (a possible jail term) in America I find it rather absurd â€“that is what (150 years jail term) they (the US authorities) filed in London. I have never in my life set my foot in America â€“I have never been to America in my life. I have never asked for American visa in my life. Let the American authorities come out and say that they have seen me in their country before. I repeat: I have never been there before. They have seen somebody from Ogun State who does not know his right from his left who will go and serve a 150-year jail term in the US. I really do not get this at all.