NDLEA Should Follow Due Process In Kashamu’s Case
FOR some days last week, operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) laid siege to the Lagos home of Ogun State senator-elect and chairman of the Organisation and Mobilisation Committee of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Buruji Kashamu. According to the drug law enforcement agency, it stormed the residence because it had plans to take the senator-elect to court on Monday, which was two days after it had placed the politician under house arrest. Request of the politician that NDLEA should produce a warrant of arrest was ignored. The agency said it had the proper document but nobody —neither the senator-elect nor his lawyer — was able to sight the warrant. NDLEA insisted it had it, except that it had become a rare commodity, which only the drug agency alone had.
One is convinced that the NDLEA never had a warrant of arrest as it would be difficult for any court to issue one since there was a pending issue before the law court in which the politician had sued the chairman of the National Drug Laws Enforcement Agency and 11 others over an alleged plot to extradite him to the United States of America to face trial. That case is still pending before the invasion.
So why the strong-arm tactics by the NDLEA? The drug agency had said it was acting based on request from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which had made an extradition request to it for Kashamu who had been accused of drug-trafficking related crime over 20 years ago. Inasmuch as one would not support anybody who was involved in any crime from facing trial, the proper thing should be done. It is really curious that the NDLEA would ignore the fact that a case had been instituted in court. It also leaves one to wonder why the agency had to employ such strong-arm tactics — no warrant of arrest, placing the politician under house arrest with utter disregard for his fundamental human rights, with plans to later go to court to legitimise its action.
Some of the questions one tends to ask are: why now, why this time? This is a case that had been there and had turned cold since the past 20 years, who now decided to exhume it? What is the aim? Is it to disgrace the PDP chieftain for having won an election in a state, which used to be an opposition strong hold, which Ogun State was before the change of baton? Who stands to benefit if the senator-elect was eventually bundled to the US? It is automatic that there would be a vacancy, while a bye-election would now be held to fill the slot, who stands to benefit? One is convinced that Kashamu’s problem started when some vested interests came together to ‘deal’ with him. The embattled politician had hinted that his present travail started when he fell out with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. One tends to now believe him in view of recent developments. The former president had accused Kashamu of being a drug crime fugitive and would not want to associate with him.
In a letter written to Nigeria’s immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan, Obasanjo had written, “I cannot and I will not subscribe to a wanted habitual criminal being installed as my zonal leader in the party; a criminal for whom extradition has been requested by the US Government. “I will consider withdrawing my activity with PDP at Local, State, Zonal and national levels until the anomalous and shameful situation is corrected”. That was early this year. One now asks, why did the former president suddenly woke up to the realisation that Kashamu was a wanted criminal? It is on record that the senator-elect and the former president had enjoyed a yummy relationship before politics did them apart.
The senator-elect was indirectly funding some of the former president’s related interests, for instance, the ex-president’s church and his other concerns have benefitted from donations from Kashamu. The embattled politician was said to have funded the governorship campaign of General Olatunji Idowu Olurin during the 2011 elections. It was a known fact then that Olurin was the ex-president’s candidate. But today, the relationship is strained. Would Kashamu be facing this problem if he had been enjoying a cordial relationship with the former president? But in all these, what matters is for the NDLEA to follow due process in its action. This sentiment was echoed by Kashamu when he said, “On the US case, I wish to state for the umpteenth time that the United States as the bastion of democracy and the Rule of Law would not lend itself to any form of abuse of the fundamental human rights of an innocent soul, especially one that has been arrested, tried and freed by its most trusted ally – the United Kingdom.
“I am not running from any trial. All I have asked is for the relevant parties to follow due process – if they believe that I yet have a case to answer. I stand with the Almighty Allah Subhana Wa Tala. He is the protector of all men. He is my refuge and shield. Let no one play God!”. The US government that we know is a defender of human rights and would not be a party to the subversion of due process of the law. The NDLEA should be cautious in its approach, especially now that a new administration has taken over governance. Due process should be followed in this particular case, the senator should not be hounded as this would be counter-productive and would tag the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari negatively.
• Olayinka, a public affairs analyst sent this from Lagos