Hearing continues May 8 in Buruji’s anti-extradition suit
JUSTICE Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday adjourned till Friday the hearing of all pending applications in a suit filed by senator-elect, Prince Kashamu Buruji, against the Inspector-General of Police and 11 others to forestall his extradition to the United States (U.S.) for alleged drug-related offences.
The adjournment following an application to that effect by counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, to enable him confirm which office of the agency (Lagos or Abuja) that was served.
Respondents in the fundamental rights suit include the Chairman, Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Chairman, EFCC, Director-General, Department of State Security (DSS), the Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB) and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
Others are the Clerk of the National Assembly, the National Security Adviser to the President, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Oyedepo claimed that he was yet to get the processes filed by the applicant, and that it is not in the habit of the agency not to respond to any application filed against it. He therefore asked the court for a very shot adjournment to enable the anti-graft agency response to Buruju’s application, which he said would be in the interest of justice.
He apologised to both the applicant and other respondents for stalling yesterday’s proceedings. However, counsel to the applicant, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), urged the court to discountenance the EFCC application on the ground that the matter before the court needed to be determined expeditiously.
He argued that there was not any material fact before the court to make it exercise its discretion in favour of the EFCC and that since the EFCC had conceded that it was served and failed to respond after the 12 days stipulated by Order 8 Rule 3 of the court, such did not make room for extension of time.
Nevertheless, other respondents in the suit who have filed their responses and objections to the suit did not raise any objection to the anti-graft body’s application.
Consequently, Justice Abang adjourned hearing on all pending applications in the matter till May 8. Buruji, a chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a 92-paragraph affidavit sworn and deposed to by himself and filed before the court by two SANs, Dr. Alex Izinyon and Ricky Tarfa, averred that he was incarcerated in Brixton Prisons in London from January 10, 1998 till January10, 2003, when he was freed in a judgment delivered by the Bow Street Magistrate, London, presided by the District Judge, Tim Workman.
According to him, the judge held that the allegations by the U.S. authorities against him with regard to importation of narcotics into the U.S. involved a case of mistaken identity and there was no “prima facie” case that he was the person referred to as Alaji by those apprehended in the U.S., who had indicated that they had a West African collaborator.
Consequently, the judge set aside the committal order. He also stated that after the judgment, which was delivered on October 6, 2000, he was re-arrested and brought to face the second extradition proceedings, which the U.S. authorities had commenced before the judgment of the high court, and that Justice Tim Workman, giving the second extradition judgment on January 10, 2003, equally released him and he returned to Nigeria to start his business.
Buruji stated that thereafter, he was lured to join politics because of his philanthropic activities through his Omo-Ilu Foundation, but that his political activities have brought him some powerful enemies, including his erstwhile political leader and Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
In the affidavit, he alleged further that he and Obasanjo were political allies between 2009 and 2012 when he worked for the former president and his candidate for governorship of Ogun State, Gen. Tunji Olurin (rtd), but that he, however, fell out with Obasanjo because of his (Buruju’s) stand for internal democracy in the PDP.
According to him, every attempt to stop his progress politically has been made, including intense propaganda against him, which tended to give impression that he had been convicted for drug-related offences in the United Kingdom or U.S. He stated that the INTERPOL had also been invited to investigate him on the basis of these allegations in 2008 and on conclusion, published a report dated March 4, 2008, which stated that he was never declared wanted, and after which he was constrained to issue several press statements.
The applicant further alleged that his lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, informed him in October 2014 that on a flight to Abuja from Lagos, a colleague, Godwin Obla (SAN) who is very close to the Attorney-General of the Federation, informed him of the tremendous pressure that Obasanjo was bringing on the AGF for his extradition.
He added that and in one of the discussions between the AGF and Obasanjo, which Obla witnessed, the former president boasted that he was making arrangement with some U.S. officials in the region to have him abducted and flown in a private jet to the U.S. Obla, he said, then advised Oluyede to warn him to be very careful.
Upon discreet inquiries, he stated, he found out that indeed there had been moves by U.S. officials within the region to secure the assistance of the head of Interpol division in the office of then Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, now acting Inspector-General of Police, for his arrest and delivery to the U.S. officials for movement to the U.S. without due process required by the Nigerian Extradition Act.
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