The Federal Government will soon file a fresh extradition proceeding against the lawmaker representing Ogun East in the National Assembly, Senator Buruji Kashamu, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
The development is as a result of the May 4, 2018 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, dismantling the restraining orders of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court earlier obtained by the federal lawmaker.
The restraining orders of the Federal High Court in Lagos formed the ground for the July 1, 2015 decision of the Federal High Court in Abuja to dismiss the earlier extradition proceedings instituted against the serving senator.
Sources at the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja told our correspondent on Friday that the suit would be filed as soon as the United States of America sent a fresh request for the extradition of the senator.
Kashamu is said to be on the wanted list of the US government over his alleged involvement in illicit drug activities.
The ministry sources explained that the US government would need to make a formal request because the earlier one had been overtaken by events since it was used to institute the earlier proceedings, which the court dismissed on July 1, 2015.
They explained that the old request would have been useful if the former extradition suit was merely struck out and not dismissed.
Our correspondent learnt on Friday that the Central Authority Unit, which is the department of the Federal Ministry of Justice that deals with extradition issues, had promptly written to the US government on the issue following the latest court verdict.
The CAU specifically asked the US government to make a fresh request for the senator after the Federal High Court dismissed the former extradition suit on July 1, 2015.
One of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, stated, “With the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal, the coast is now clear to file fresh extradition proceedings.
“The US government has been told to make a fresh request for the senator after the former extradition proceedings were dismissed.
“We had been waiting for the orders hindering the extradition to be set aside by the appellate court.
“With the judgment of the Court of Appeal now, we would have just revived the former proceedings but since the case was not just struck out but dismissed by the Federal High Court, it means the process must start afresh.”
He added that as soon the US government “sends a fresh request, the new extradition proceedings will be commenced.”
The source explained that although the US government had been notified to send a fresh request since 2015, “it may be necessary to remind them since the coast is now clear to proceed.”
When reminded that Kashamu had appealed to the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the source said, “It will not stop the extradition proceedings once everything needed to set it in motion is ready”.
The source added, “The judgment of the Federal High Court was against the Federal Government; so, the process was stopped.
“Now that the judgment of a higher court is against the senator, there is nothing stopping the proceedings for now. There is no order, unlike before, holding the hands of government.”
The earlier extradition proceedings initiated against Kashamu was dismissed by the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 1, 2015.
The immediate past Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, had, in the twilight of the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration, filed the extradition application on May 28, 2015 upon a request by the US.
The US, in its request, asked the Nigerian government to surrender Kashamu to be prosecuted on one count charge of a drug-related offence pending against him before the United States District Court for the Northern Illinois, Eastern Division.
But Justice Gabriel Kolawole, in his judgment, delivered on July 1, 2015, held that he lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit while the June 8, 2015 judgment of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, nullifying the extradition application and affirmed by another judge of the same Lagos division on June 23, 2015, had not been set aside by any appellate court.
Justice Okon Abang, then of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, had, on June 8, 2015, nullified the extradition proceedings, which he said were initiated in contravention of an earlier order of the court delivered in 2013.
Justice Abang’s pronouncement was anchored on the grounds that British courts had cleared Kashamu of the allegations levelled against him by the US government.
His orders nullifying the extradition proceedings were subsequently affirmed by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the same Lagos Division of the court in a ruling delivered on June 23, 2015.
Kashamu’s lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, had subsequently filed the rulings delivered by the courts in Lagos in objection to the extradition proceedings commenced before Justice Kolawole at the Abuja Division of the court.
In his ruling on Kashamu’s objection, Justice Kolawole, although expressed reservations about the judgments delivered in Lagos, querying whether the judges could validly nullify the proceedings before another judge of the same level of jurisdiction.
He described the verdicts from Lagos as wild, audacious and breath-taking.
He however held that it was the exclusive duty of the Court of Appeal to determine whether they were rightly or wrongly given.
When contacted on Friday, a senior lawyer in the CAU of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Pius Akutah, confirmed that following the judgment of the Court of Appeal setting aside the rulings from the courts in Lagos, the extradition suit would be refiled as soon and the US government sent a fresh request for the senator.
“We will be waiting for the US government to send a fresh request for the senator. Once we get the request, we will immediately file a fresh extradition suit,” Akutah added.