Senator Buruji Kashamu has accused his political foes of twisting the ruling of a United States (US) court over his extradition trial.
Kashumu, who represents Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, declared that it would be illegal to begin another extradition proceeding against him over alleged drug dealing in the US.
The lawmaker recalled that similar cases had been dismissed by two courts in the United Kingdom and a Federal High Court in Nigeria.
Kashamu told journalists at the weekend in Lagos that the ruling by the US Appeal Court was twisted by a section of the media, adding that his travails were politically motivated.
He said that the ruling was to the effect that the US police were free to initiate extradition proceedings against anyone in collaboration with a local police, stressing, “that does not mean the court is telling them they have the right to enter into our territory to arrest me. That does not mean our police will say come and kidnap him”.
“But what we are saying is that they cannot bring another extradition against me, because the ones they brought to London were dismissed; the one in Nigeria was dismissed, he said.
Senator Kashamu stated that allegations of illicit drug dealing in the US against him were baseless because he had never been to America, adding that only a fugitive could be extradited, which he was not.
He therefore appealed to the Federal Government, which he noted believes in the rule of law, not to fall into the trap of his political enemies to extradite him at whatever cost, “which will amount to an abduction case.”
Kashamu also asked the government to defend the country’s territorial integrity, lamenting that a situation where British investigators for instance, come to Nigeria to conduct investigations, to the extent of taking witnesses away to testify abroad, should be stopped.
According to him, the present media reports are part of the efforts orchestrated by his political opponents to call “a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”
Tracing the genesis of the saga, Kashamu said that while on a business trip to the UK 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 US in which the name Alaji had been introduced as a party to an alleged offence of importation of narcotics.
He denied ever visiting or residing in the US, as well as being involved in any business not to talk of a criminal activity whatsoever in the US.
Kashanu disclosed that his lawyers discovered some exculpatory evidence, which the US 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 line-up, Fillmore, one of the accused, said that the third photograph in the line-up 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 line-up; that was one of the photographs that Fillmore said did not at all look like the wanted kingpin.
“So, my lawyers immediately commenced a Habeas Corpus (a recourse in law whereby a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment before a court) application in the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division, for my release and the vacation of the committal order made by the Court.
“The English High Court in its judgment 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 US authorities did not appeal the decision but re-arrested him and commenced a second extradition proceeding at the Bow Street Magistrate Court in England before District Judge Tim Workman.
He said 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 my brother Adewale had died in the 1980s.