Kashamu Dies of COVID-19

Buruji Kashamu
  • He escaped justice but couldn’t evade death, says Obasanjo
  • Abiodun, Abati mourn
  • NCDC announced 453 new cases, total now 46,140

Bayo Akinloye

Senator Buruji Kashamu, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s chieftain and candidate in the last Ogun State governorship election, has died.

His death was announced on Saturday by Senator Ben Murray-Bruce.

Making the announcement on Twitter, Murray-Bruce said, “I have just lost my good friend of forever to #COVID19. Until his death, Sen. Buruji Kashamu and I were inseparable.

“He died today at First Cardiology Consultants, in Lagos. May his gentle soul rest in peace. I pray his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear this heavy loss.”

Meanwhile, NCDC announced 453 new confirmed cases yesterday, with FCT recording 75 new cases, Lagos 71, Benue-53, Delta-39, Borno-30, Enugu-25, Plateau-24, Osun-20, Abia-19, Oyo-17, Kaduna-16, Kano-13, Ebonyi-13, Ogun-9, Kwara-7, Ondo-6, Gombe-3, Ekiti-2, Akwa Ibom-1 and Rivers-1

The total national tally now stands at 46,140 with 33,044 discharged and 942 deaths.

Kashamu’s health was reported to have deteriorated a couple of days ago which led to his being moved from an isolation centre in Lagos State to First Cardiology Consultants. He was said to have died of complications due to some underlying medical conditions.

Kashamu, before his death, represented Ogun East Senatorial District between 2015 and 2019.

In his reaction to the demise of the former senator, former president Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday condoled with Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun.

In a statement signed by his spokesman Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo said while Kashamu’s death was “sad”, his life and history left “lessons for those of all us on this side of the veil.”

Senator Buruji Kashamu in his lifetime used the maneuver of law and politics to escape from facing justice on alleged criminal offence in Nigeria and outside Nigeria,” Obasanjo said.

But no legal, political, cultural, social, or even medical maneuver could stop the cold hand of death when the Creator of all of us decides that the time is up.

“May Allah forgive his sin and accept his soul into Aljanah, and may God grant his family and friends fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

Born on May 19, 1958, the billionaire businessman and later politician was a subject of extradition between the United States and Nigeria.

On December 18, 1998, the UK’s Metropolitan Police arrested Kashamu, who was travelling with a Benin passport. Police found $230,000 in cash in his possession.

Before he was arrested in the UK, he had earlier been indicted in the US by a grand jury for conspiracy to import heroin into the U.S.

Kashamu was indicted following incriminating evidence provided by three of his alleged co-conspirators. They alleged that the man they said was also known as “Alaji” or “God” was the leader of the heroin smuggling ring. Kashamu was detained at the Brixton Prison pending the completion of his extradition process which had been initiated by the United States’ Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.

However, Kashamu denied the allegations. He said he was not the leader of the drug-smuggling conspiracy. He has claimed that the so-called “Alaji”, the drug-smuggling kingpin was his brother, Adewale Kashamu, who was allegedly killed in 1989 by the personnel of the Nigerian Customs.

He claimed that he shared a striking resemblance with his deceased brother.
Though the US requested his extradition, the UK authorities refused to hand Kashamu over to the US.
However, the Nigerian government worked unsuccessfully with the US authorities to have him extradited to America.
Until his death, Kashamu was regarded as a philanthropist and grass-roots politician.

Meanwhile, the governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has expressed shock over the death of Kashamu.

In a statement released in Abeokuta on Saturday by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, the governor described Kashamu’s passing as one death too many and a devastating blow to the nation’s political family generally.

Abiodun said: “I received the sad news of the passing of Senator Buruji Kashamu today, 8 August, 2020, with a deep pain and grief that words cannot capture. On behalf of my family, the Government and good people of Ogun State, I convey our deepest condolences.

“His demise further diminishes the tribe of my close political associates. He was a large-hearted politician and courageous fighter for whatever cause he believed in.

“He was not just a loving personality, a generous giver and someone who lived for others, he was to many a beacon of hope of a better tomorrow. This painful exit is much more than the end of an individual.

“Distinguished Senator Kashamu was a phenomenon, he was faithful to his principles and convictions and even his critics would attest to his tenacity of purpose.

“Our brother and friend was a consummate politician and patriot who will be sorely missed within and outside Ogun State for his larger than life disposition.

“Posterity will accord him his due recognition for his legacies of service and forthrightness. He was a worthy ambassador of Ogun State.”

Abiodun, however, urged all to find solace in the saying of Prophet Muhammad (SAW): “Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for anyone except the believer. If something of good / happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him.”

Kashamu’s running mate for the 2019 Ogun State governorship race, Dr Reuben Abati said he was heartbroken by the death of the politician.

In a statement, Abati said Kashamu was his political mentor.
He said: “I feel like an orphan all over again. I may have worked with the PDP government at the federal level, but he was the man who brought me into direct, partisan politics.

“He was one of the most generous men that I have ever known. He was determined to groom me and he did. He taught me the ropes. He linked me with the grassroots. I learnt a lot from him.
“Senator Kashamu mentored me and others without any strings attached.”

Abati described Kashamu as a very simple man who was grossly misunderstood by his political opponents.
“His persona, his politics was indeed grossly misunderstood but those who knew him personally met a man who loved Nigeria dearly and was unapologetically public-spirited”, he added.

Abati said Kashamu’s death was yet another confirmation that COVID-19 is real, capricious and wicked.
According to him, Kashamu enjoyed giving other people opportunities.

Abati said: “He was humorous, kind-hearted, large-hearted and genial. With his death, Nigeria, Ogun state, Ijebuland and the people of Ijebu-Igbo have lost an illustrious son, who demonstrated courage, talent and creativity in everything to which he applied his energy.

“He no longer wanted to run for office in 2023, but he made it clear he would support others to achieve their dreams of getting an opportunity to make contributions on the Nigerian stage.”