Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court Thursday restrained the federal government from initiating processes on its planned extradition of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Buruji Kashamu to the United States of America over alleged involvement in illicit drug trade.
Justice Okon Abang, in a judgment, held that neither the federal government nor any of its agents could validly initiate extradition proceedings against Kashamu in view of subsisting restraining orders and judgments in his favour, which have remained unchallenged.
Justice Abang particularly noted that the judgment given by the Federal High Court, Lagos on January 6, 2014 (in suit No:49/2010) and another judgment of July 1, 2016 given by the Federal High Court , Abuja (in suit No: 479/2015), which prohibited Kashamu’s extradition on account of the US drug allegation, are still subsisting.
The judgment was on a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/530/18 filed by Kashamu, with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as defendants.
Kashamu had, in the suit challenged the propriety of a letter by Shehu Bodinga of the Central Control Unit in the AGF’s office, requesting the United States’ embassy in Nigeria to forward a fresh extradition application after the judgment by Justice Gabriel Kolawole (then of the Federal High Court, Abuja) in suit No: 479/2015 voiding an earlier extradition proceedings.
Justice Abang, in his judgment, noted that Justice Kolawole’s judgment, in nullifying the earlier extradition proceedings, was based on two judgments of the Federal High Court in suits Nos: 49/2010 and 508/2015, declaring as unlawful all attempts to extradite Kashamu in view of the judgments by two British courts, which held that he was not the person involved in the drug crime in the US.
The judge noted that while the AGF successfully challenged the court’s decisions in suit 508/2015, which was set aside in the appeals marked: 1030 and 1030a on May 4, 2018, the AGF failed to appeal the other judgment in the suit No: 49/2010.
Justice Abang held that, since the judgment in suit No: 49/2010 which contained a specific order restraining the AGF from exercising his power of extradition under the Extradition Act, was not challenged, it remains alive along with the restraining order.
The judge also held that since the subsequent judgment by Justice Kolawole was also not appealed, it remains subsisting and binding on all parties.
In the earlier part of the judgment, Justice Abang set aside the letter written by Bodinga, dated July 14 2016 on the grounds that neither the AGF nor his agent has the power under any law to apply to a foreign country, with which Nigeria has extradition treaty, to bring a request for the extradition of a citizen of this country where that country has not made such an application.