The popular Anti Corruption and Integrity Forum has petitioned the Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington on why Senator Buruji Kashamu should be extradited to face alleged criminal trials preferred against him in the United States of America.
In a press statement released in Asaba, Delta State, the group allegedly accused Kashamu of hiding under judicial cover to evade justice.
According to the Chairman of the Anti Corruption body, Comrade Prince Kpokpogri who signed the statement, he alleged that Senator Kashamu was abusing court processes in a desperate bid to continue to run away from his alleged career crime in illicit drug peddling and fraud.
His words, “If the U.S. Department of Justice is willing to extradite Mr. Buruji Kashamu, such request would be granted easily now since the Nigerian court has not thrown its weight to the UK Magistrate Court’s decision over extradition of Mr. Kashamu. Mr. Kashamu was able to restrain the Nigerian Attorney General from executing an extradition request by the United States in a judgment cited in suit No: 49/2010 at the Federal High Court in Abuja but the matter is currently being appealed because it appears the judgment in suit No: 49/2010 was based on a UK Court ruling on the same matter and was probably misconstrued for an acquittal.
“However, it does not amount to acquittal as stated in section 4(a) (b) of the Extradition Act that ‘A fugitive criminal shall not be surrendered if the Attorney General or a court dealing with the case is satisfied that, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere, he (a) has been convicted on offence for which his surrender is sought; or (b) has been acquitted thereof, and that, in a case falling within paragraph (a) of this subsection, he is not unlawfully at large. But in the case of Mr. Kashamu, a habeas corpus suit against the United States while seeking to extradite him from Nigeria would not apply since he has not been convicted or acquitted of an offence’.
“As you can see, the judgment was given based on assumption that Mr. Buruji Kashamu was acquitted by the London Court, however, facts say otherwise. It will interest you to know that Justice Joseph Ikyeghi in the judgments marked CA/L/1030/15 and CA/L/1030A/15 in the appeal filed by the Nigerian Attorney General held that the orders granted in favour of Mr. Kashamu by Justice Okon Abang were invalid because they were based on hearsays and speculations by Mr. Buruji Kashamu. Permit us to assert that this is a ripe opportunity for the US to institute an extradition request for Mr. Buruji Kashamu”, Kpokpogri affirmed.
Comrade Kpokpogri therefore, called on the Nigerian Government to avail the US Government all necessary assistance to enable her extradite Senator Buruji Kashamu to face criminal charges in the US.
He however, promised to call a press conference in Abuja to release water-tight documents detailing about 32 points evidences based on reasons why the US Government should immediately extradite Senator Buruji Kashamu for prosecution in the US.
He said, “Despite the fact that the case had remained opened in a court in Chicago since 1998, the matter is still of interest to Nigeria and Nigerians at large. While Kashamu was able to lobby his way into politics and influence his way into prominence amidst the admiration of the corrupt political class for being able to evade prosecution in the US; there are people on the other side of the divide who are interested in his prosecution and conviction”, Kpokpogri posited.
It will be recalled that on December 18, 1998, the UK’s Metropolitan Police arrested Senator Kashamu, who was travelling with a Benin passport. Police found $230,000 in cash in his possession. Meanwhile, he had seven months earlier been indicted by a grand jury for conspiracy to import heroin into the U.S.
Senator 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. He 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.
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 said he shared a striking resemblance with his deceased brother.
On January 10, 2003, Timothy Workman, a magistrate in the UK, dismissed the extradition request put forward by the United States, stating among other things that Mr Kashamu indeed had a similar-looking brother who was killed in 1989 by Customs officials. The Magistrate also found that certain assertions by the U.S. government in the extradition proceedings were untrue. He subsequently ordered the release of Mr Kashamu.
However, the United States has not relented in its quest in extraditing Mr Kashamu to the U.S. to face trial for the alleged heroin-smuggling conspiracy. It argued that it is not bound by Mr Workman’s conclusion that Mr Kashamu’s brother was the co-conspirator because “Kashamu’s extradition proceeding was a preliminary proceeding and not a proceeding in which the full merits, and the full evidence, were considered.”
“Magistrate Workman himself recognized that this Court and the jury were the ultimate determiners of the credibility of the witnesses, including on the issue of Kashamu’s identification as the leader of the heroin smuggling conspiracy, and that his decision was limited to the matter before him,” it stated in its response to a 2009 application by Mr Kashamu at a United States District Court Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.
The U.S. government said “The government believes in good faith that Kashamu, and not any alleged brother, is the co-conspirator in this case” because two members of the Kashamu’s alleged heroin-smuggling ring, Catherine and Ellen Wolters, “independently identified Kashamu, through his arrest photograph, as the person whom they knew as “Alaji.” The government, to the undersigned attorney’s knowledge, has never received any photograph of the alleged brother and has been unable to test the veracity of Kashamu’s claim about him.”