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Extradition: Judge To Hear Senator Kashamu's Motion Against Nigerian Government June 6

By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos 

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, will on June 6, 2019, entertain the application instituted by the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial district of Ogun State, at the National Assembly, Buruji Kashamu, praying for the reopening of his legal action against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and six others.

The application is intended at stopping his extradition to the United State of America (USA) to face drug related charges.

Specifically, Senator Kashamu is having a legal confrontation with the Nigeria government's intention to  extradite him to the USA where he is being wanted on alleged drug trafficking offence.

Other respondents in the suit before Justice Aneke are: The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), the Lagos State Commissioner of Police (CP), the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

When the matter came up before the Federal High Court, Kashamu's lawyer, Ifeoma Esom, notified Justice Aneke  of his motion seeking to reopen hearing in the suit.

The lawyer further argued that her client's motion to reopen the matter was on the basis of the discovery of new facts which would assist the court in doing justice to the matter.

In his response, lawyer to the NDLEA, J .N Sunday admitted service of the application and further informed the court that he had already filed his response to same.

The NDLEA's lawyer however drew the attention of the court to the fact that the presence of the AGF's office is very important in the hearing of the application.

But Sunday expressed the doubt that the AGF was served with notice of hearing.

This position prompted Justice Aneke to adjourn the matter for hearing.

According to the fresh application, Senator Kashamu is asking the court to reopen hearing which had already been concluded in the matter.

The application, according to Esom is hinged on the recent discovery of the Extradition (Amendment) Act 2018 which came to effect on November 6, 2018 and which would be relevant to do substantial justice to the matter.

Esom said the Extradition (Amendment) Act 2018 provides that, "6A. Where a claim of mistaking identity is raised by a person who is a defendant in an extraction case and no evidence is led by the plaintiff or the requesting county to satisfactorily rebut the claim of mistaken identity as raided by the defendant, the court shall dismiss the application for extradition order and accordingly order the defendant discharged.”

But the NDLEA in its counter-affidavit to Kashamu's motion, argued that the applicant has never been exonerated of complicity of any crime by any court in Nigeria, the USA or the UK. 

The Agency also stated that both the British and Nigeria courts never exonerated the applicant of any charge.

The NDLEA further argued that the suit designated FHC/L/49/2010, had nothing to do with extradition as same was instituted as a result of a petition dated December 18, 2009 with the caption, “Concerned Citizens of Ogun State" alleging the Commission of various criminal offences by the applicant.

It was equally the contention of the NDLEA that the amendment contained in section 6A of the Extradition (Amendment) Act 2018 is published in an official Gazette and that the court can take judicial notice of same without having to reopen argument in the suit.

The Agency further explained that Section 6A of the Extradition, (Amendment) Act 2018 was not made to have retrospective effect and that same has no relevance or bearing to the judgement or decision of the Bow Street Magistrate Court in 2003 or any other judgement.

The FGN insisted that the application was brought in bad fate and that same has no place in the adjudicatory process.

In the suit designated FHC/L/CS/930/18, Kashamu is asking the court to issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the respondents from arresting or detaining him in any manner whatsoever, interfering with his personal liberty and freedom of movement on the basis of his lawyer's letter dated May 23, 2018, wherein he protested the NDLEA's invitation to USA to send a request for his extradition.

Senator Kashamu also prayed the judge for a declaration that the instructions given by the AGF to other respondents on May 25, 2018, in reaction to his letter dated May 23, 2018, wherein he protested the NDLEA's invitation to the USA to send a request for his extradition to US, and the attempt and any further attempts by the first to fourth respondents to arrest him on the basis of the AGF's said instructions are breach of his fundamental rights to personal liberty and freedom of as  guaranteed by Section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and article 14 of the African Charter on human and people's right of Nigeria.

But the NDLEA in its preliminary objection filed by it's Legal Officers, J. N. Sunday and Ichakpa Oigoga, urged the court to dismiss Kashamu's suit for being incompetent, as it failed to disclose any infringement of his right, and for being an abuse of court processes.

The anti-narcotic agency in the affidavit in support of the preliminary objection deposed to by one of its litigation/exhibit officers, Kareem Olayinka, stated that the authority of the USA are currently seeking to have Kashamu extradited to their country to answer charges relating to the trafficking in heroin, and that the USA government had made the request sometimes in May 2015.

The deponent also stated that since the applicant began to get the wind of the extradition request, he has filed multiplicity of law suits relating to the issue. 

Among the suits filed by the Senator includes: FHC/L/CS/508/14, FHC/L/CS 508/2015, FHC/L/CS/763/2015 and FHC/L/CS/479/2015, before Justice O. E. Abang, Justice Nasir Ibrahim Buba and Justice G. O. Kolawole. 

The NDLEA added that the AGF successful prosecuted an appeal against the judgment of Justice O. E. Abang in both substantive and contempt case and obtained judgments setting aside the decisions of the lower court in appeal numbers CA/L/1030/2015 and CA/L/1030A/205.

The Agency urged the court to dismiss Kashamu's suit as it failed to disclose any cause of action against the AGF, for violation of his rights and that the multiplicity of actions continuously filed and maintained by the applicant against NDLEA is intended to annoy and divert its energy and attention from discharging its mandate to the nation.

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