The lawmaker representing Ogun East Senatorial District, Senator Buruji Kashamu, has said that it would be illegal for anyone to use the recent ruling by a United States Appeal Court to initiate another extradition proceedings against him over drug dealing allegations.
He said similar cases had previously been dismissed by two United Kingdom courts and a Federal High Court in Nigeria.
The Senator, at a press briefing in Lagos over the weekend, disclosed that he has no case to answer and that allegations of illicit drug dealing in the United States were baseless because he had never been to the US. Kashamu recalled that while on a business trip to the United Kingdom in 1998, he was arrested at City Airport in London and detained pursuant to an arrest warrant issued on the basis of an indictment in the United States in which the name of an ‘Alaji’ had been introduced as a party to an alleged offence of importation of narcotics.
“I have never visited or resided in the United States and certainly have never been involved in any business not to talk of a criminal activity whatsoever in the United States,” he said.
He said his lawyers came across some exculpatory evidence, which the United States government had concealed from the courts in the extradition proceedings.
The evidence, he said, was the outcome of a photo identification parade for the purpose of identifying the ‘Alaji’ held in the US Attorney’s office.
Kashamu said: “They had taken a mug shot of me and placed it with seven other photographs of black males who had facial hair that was similar to mine and were about my age too.
“After viewing the photo lineup, Fillmore, one of the accused, said that the third photograph in the lineup looked like a bad photograph of the man they were looking for.
“He also declared that the second, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth photographs did not at all look like the said Alaji. My mug shot was the seventh in the lineup.
That was one of the photographs that Fillmore said did not at all look like the wanted kingpin.” He said that the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division in its judgement delivered on the 6th of October 2000, agreed that the order for my committal was null and void, having been the product of unfair proceedings in which the U.S. Government had suppressed exculpatory evidence.
Kashamu said the United States authorities did not appeal the decision, but re-arrested him and commenced a second extradition proceedings at the Bow Street Magistrate Court in England before District Judge Tim Workman. According to him, the US authorities produced several documents to refute the position that it was a case of mistaken identity and the person sought was his brother, Adewale Kashamu, including documents from the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), which sought to establish that his said brother had died in the 1980s.
Kashamu said the NDLEA officials who had made the false statements eventually admitted that they had been put under pressure by the U.S. authorities and revealed that indeed they had no record that Adewale Kashamu died in the 1980s.
“The Bow Street Magistrate Court delivered its judgement on the 10th of January 2003, wherein District Judge Tim Workman came to the conclusion that the new identification evidence produced by the U.S. Government was worthless and unreliable and that I was clearly not the person involved in the narcotics transaction for which the indictment was made in the U.S and should thus be discharged,” the Senator also added.
Kashamu further alleged that there was a conspiracy against him, which culminated in a failed attempt to abduct him during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
His words: “In view of the facts that I was arrested and detained on the request of the American Government between 1998 and 2003, and two British courts found that I was not the person being sought and freed me, after two extradition proceedings, the Federal Government, its agencies or any of its officers ought not to entertain any purported extradition or abduction.
“Therefore, any attempt to condone or allow abduction in the guise of an extradition is an illegality and affront on our sovereignty, the rule of law, international and municipal laws.
“I am an employer of labour with hundreds of employees who also cater for their immediate and their extended families. I have had more than enough distractions since this needless harassment began.
“I could hardly focus on building my businesses and the consequences on my bottom line and cash flow have saddled me with an N11 billion deficit that I am still battling to offset,” he said.