The Federal High Court in Lagos has barred five commercial banks from instigating Senator Buruji Kashamu’s arrest by security agencies over an alleged debt.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke made an order of perpetual injunction restraining the banks and their officers from instigating the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) to arrest, interrogate or detain Kashamu.
It is with regards to “an innocuous and unblemished civil contractual transaction” between Kashamu and the banks.
The banks are Ecobank Nigeria Plc, Union Bank Plc, Enterprise Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc and First City Monument Bank Plc. The judge declared that the EFCC and the police were not empowered to act as debt collectors.
Senator Buruji Kashumu was sued along with his companies: Kasmal Properties Ltd, Hotel De Island Ltd, Nacoil International Ltd, Hotel De Island Bureau De Change Ltd, Island Auto International Ltd, Daily Capital Microfinance Ltd and Kasmal Group of Companies.
Senator Buruji Kashumu claimed the banks were being used by his political opponents to send the EFCC after him over the loans he obtained”.
“The applicants’ relationships with the third to seventh respondents (banks) are purely banker/customer relationships with valuable security collaterizing all loans taken from the banks and therefore devoid of criminality as to justify reference to law enforcement agents.
“The first and second respondents (EFCC and IGP) are agencies of the government charged with the responsibility of combating economic and financial crimes.
“In the course of their relationships with the third to seventh respondents (banks), the plaintiffs have not committed any economic, financial or general crime as to warrant being reported to and or interrogated and detained by the first and second respondents.
“I believe the indebtedness of a customer to his bank is not a crime under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Kashamu said in a supporting affidavit.
Ecobank asked the court to dismiss or strike out Kashamu’s suit for being a gross abuse of the court processes. Its case with Kashamu, the bank said, had to do with his indebtedness to the defunct Oceanic Bank, acquired by Ecobank and had no connection with his purported extradition process to the US for heroine importation charges.
Born on May 19, 1948, Buruji, an indigene of Ijebu Igbo in Ogun State, is a Muslim. He is married with many children and grand children. He is the Chairman/CEO of Kasmal Group of Companies Limited, located at 33, Sanusi Fafunwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. He has over 500 employees working for the group.
Buruji is also the Chairman of Group Kasmal SAL in Republic of Benin. He has about 76 per cent share capital in the ultra-modern cotton ginnery – Societe d’Egrenage Industrial de Coton du Benin (SEICB S.A) in the Republic of Benin. His business experience, spanning over 20 years, has involved importation and exportation of goods, semi-finished and finished agro-allied products.
Omolara Adegoke – Abuja
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