Francis Moses reports on the travails of Senator-elect of Ogun-East District who is wanted for alleged drug related offences in the United States of America
The senator-elect, Buruji Kashamu who was supposed to be in the court yesterday to answer charges for drug allegations and face possible extradition charges to the United States of America, remained holed up in his Lagos, Lekki house where he is being closely monitored under house arrest by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Meanwhile the Agency is working hard to ensure that he submits himself to the due process and its anti-narcotic officers have cordoned off his home pending his appearance in court.
However the extradition move by the NDLEA for Kashamu to answer drug trafficking charges, according to the drug agency, is legal. The Agency says it has not violated his rights and will continue to work within the confines of the law. He has been assured that due process of the law shall be adhered to at every stage.
NDLEA is the appropriate government Agency to implement his extradition request and will diligently pursue the processes to a logical conclusion. It is expected that Kashamu will willingly submit himself to the laws of the country under which he seeks to serve as a senator.
Kashamu has been a target of both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for over 20 years and was indicted in the Northern District of Illinois, United States on charges brought against him by ICE.
Kashamu, who U.S. court documents allege was known in his days as the leader of a prolific heroin trafficking ring based in Chicago, Illinois as “God,” “Daddy,” and “Kasmal,” is wanted to stand trial on charges of conspiracy and importation of controlled substances, namely heroin, into the United States dating back to 1994.
Kashamu, who holds dual Nigerian/Beninese citizenship, has taken multiple preemptive actions to thwart U.S. extradition efforts such as making fanciful claims that his is a case of mistaken identity, and that his deceased brother is responsible for the crimes he is being sought after in the United States. Kashamu has filed injunctions in federal court both in the Northern District of Illinois, United States and in Nigeria to prevent his arrest and prosecution.
At the time of his arrest, NDLEA officers allowed Kashamu’s legal attorneys Daniel Onamusi and Barrister Oloyede and close family members including his wife and adult daughters to speak with him and attest to his well-being. The NDLEA has assured Kashamu that he will be afforded all the protections of the law and will be given his day in court. Assertions that he will be bundled up under cover of darkness and whisked out of the country are untrue and should not be given any credence. We expect Kashamu as a senator- elect to demonstrate confidence in the Nigerian judicial system and not insinuate otherwise.
The Senator-elect Kashamu, has refused to surrender himself to officials of the NDLEA, who stormed his Lagos residence to convey him to court for his extradition trial.
Kashamu is insisting that the NDLEA must produce a warrant of arrest in line with the extradition treaty before he can be taken to court.
A short message sent to journalists by Kashamu’s Personal Assistant, Austin Oniyokor, reads: “It has just come to limelight that the NDLEA did not obtain a warrant of arrest from the court as required by the extradition treaty.
“Kashamu’s lawyer, Barrister Ajibola Oluyede, requested from them the court we are going to only to be told that they are just going to file the papers as no court has been assigned with the case or has ordered his arrest.”
Meanwhile, many of his supporters stormed the court on Monday in solidarity with the embattled senator-elect, carrying placards with various inscriptions.
Some of the messages on the placards read: “Leave Kashamu alone”, “We voted for him, he is our man”, “Kashamu is a great state man”, “Kashamu is not a drug baron”, “Ilegal detention, and illegal arrest must stop”.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, had on Saturday said that the arrest of Senator- elect, Kasumu Buruji, is not an extra- judicial action.
According to him the American government seeking his extradition has made a formal request and it has been passed to the appropriate legal body.
He added that due process and all legal proceedings would be pursued with respect to his extradition.
The Senator-elect had also in a statement signed by his media aide, described as illegal the decision by the drug law enforcement agency to surround his house in the early hours of Saturday.
Meanwhile it could be recalled that the embattled chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Prince Kashamu who emerged winner of Ogun East Senatorial District, ought to be facing his opponents in the election challenging his victory in the tribunal and preparing for his swearing-in June 6 as a member of the National Assembly since he has been given a certificate of return by the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC; this is the time when the senator elect is suppose to be preparing for his inauguration but unfortunate he is battling with the case of drug cases.
In that election, Kashamu polled 99, 540 votes to defeat Prince Adedapo Abiodun of the All Progressive Congress (APC) who polled 84, 001 votes. Since his emergence as a senator elect, the ruling APC in Ogun State kicked against the electoral victory of Kashamu of the PDP as Senator-elect for Ogun East Senatorial District.
The APC said the election was undemocratic and marred by gross irregularities.
Mr. Kashamu, a leader of the party in the south west and wanted in the United States for drug-related offence, was announced the winner of 28th March 2015 Senatorial election in the Ogun East Senatorial District, having defeated Dapo Abiodun of the APC and other parties candidates on the race. But the APC cried foul.
In a press conference held at the APC secretariat, at Iyana Mortuary in Abeokuta, the party fault the results.
The party claimed that Mr. Buruji induced and intimidated voters and falsified results to “win” the election.
The Deputy Director General of Governor Ibikunle Amosun Campaign Organisation, Bisi Adegbuyi, while addressing journalists on behalf of the aggrieved APC, also challenged two other House of Representatives seats won by the PDP in the zone.
At the press conference, the APC argued that the results announced by INEC did not reflect the wishes of the people from the Senatorial District and therefore determined to challenge it in court.
“We are particularly compelled to notify the entire world through your media of the undemocratic practices that attended the elections in Ogun East Senatorial District,” Mr. Adegbuyi declared. “The APC hereby categorically states that election in the Ogun East Senatorial District was marred by gross irregularities, inducement and intimidation of voters, manipulation and falsification of the results.
“The results that were announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission do not reflect the wishes of our people in Ogun East Senatorial District. We therefore reject the results of the National Assembly, particularly the one for the Senatorial seat and the two federal constituencies, Remo and Ijebu North/ Ijebu East/Ogun Waterside.”
However officials of the (NDLEA) on May 23rd, 2015 placed Senator-elect Buruji Kashamu from Ogun State under house arrest. This is sequel to a formal request for extradition received from the Embassy of the United States of America pending his arraignment before the Federal High Court on Monday, May 25th, 2015.
Meanwhile the national coordinator of Believe Nigeria Initiative (BNI), Mr Idris Usman has asked the (NDLEA) to stop harassing Ogun senator- elect, Kashamu over allegation of drug trafficking forthwith.
According to Usman, the move by the NDLEA to extradite Buruji Kashamu to the United States of America to face trial over charges bordering on drug trafficking is a clear violation of the senator-elect’s fundamental human rights, especially as the matter is before a competent court of jurisdiction.
Usman further noted that the planned arrest and extradition of Kahamu to the US were politically motivated, wondering why the NDLEA had not sought his arrest before now.
“I smell a rat in the manner the NDLEA is going about the case of Kashamu. Why now? If the NDLEA had such powers as it now claims, why did they wait until now that Kashamu has been elected the National Assembly? I believe the whole scenario has a political undertone.
“For God’s sake, the matter is in court! And any attempt by the NDLEA or any individual to arrest Kashamu will be a clear violation of court rules which will amount to contempt of court. I challenge them to produce his warrant of arrest, if they have any,” Usman said.
In another development, the BNI national coordinator has called on the President- elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to extend his anti-corruption searchlight to career public servants whom, he said, were more corrupt than the politicians in most cases.