Our attention has been drawn to yet another mischievous report credited to the Public Relations Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, in The Punch newspaper of today, Friday, February 5, 2016, purporting that Senator Buruji Kashamu is still facing some extradition proceedings. Nothing could be farther from the facts and truth.
Notwithstanding the misleading impression being created that the agency intends to allow the rule of law prevail, we are aware that its ex-Chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Giade, who is now the Special Assistant to the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on Narcotics is set to arm-twist the NDLEA to resort to yet another extra-judicial move.
The misuse of the word “extradition” by NDLEA is a euphemism for the illegal rendition they actually are planning. Let it be reiterated that Senator Kashamu is not worried about extradition proceedings being brought against him in accordance with Nigerian Laws. He knows that can never succeed in view of the decisions of the English courts that have exonerated him and has confirmed by several judgments of competent Nigerian Courts.
What Senator Kashamu is complaining about is the plan to abduct and ship him out of Nigerian without resort to due process or the Rule of Law, an illegal venture that is known as “rendition” not extradition as the NDLEA misrepresents to the public. For the avoidance of any doubt, extradition proceedings have already been brought against Senator Kashamu by the previous Attorney General of the Federation in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/479/2015 and was dismissed on the 1st of July, 2015.
The AGF has not appealed against that dismissal. In its judgment in that extradition proceedings the court expressly held that, “This suit is hereby dismissed…The Applicant (i.e the AGF), being an office created by the Constitution (see Section 150 (1) of the Constitution 1999 As Amended) has a greater obligation, by its act and conduct, in the context of its very extensive constitutional powers…to be seen to be law abiding and to give maximum and unqualified respect to every judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, regardless of its opinion as to whether the Court was right or wrong until such decisions are set aside by the appellate Courts.
To do otherwise is to further deepen an incipient culture of disobedience of Court’s orders and of unmitigated acts of unbridled impunity to judicial process even by the citizenry and the proverbial ‘common man’ whose last hope lies in the Judiciary.” It is highly mischievous for anyone to claim that “there is a pending appeal by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Justice to extradite Kashamu to the US for him to face trial.”
The appeals in question are in relation to other judgments and orders that restrained them from taking any steps against Senator Kashamu on the basis of the same allegations that he had been exonerated from. Mr. Ofoyeju and his co-travellers should acquaint themselves with the basic facts and details of a case before making pronouncements that could further cast the NDLEA as a lawless organisation in the eyes of right thinking members of the society, and among the comity of nations.
As we have often said, based on the Extradition Treaty between Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States, two British courts heard extradition proceedings against Senator Kashamu at the instance of the US authorities and found that it was a case of “mistaken identity”, and released him.
The same NDLEA that Mr. Ofoyeju claims to be speaking for had sent two of its top officials – the then Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Mr. Femi Oloruntoba and one Umaru Dan Asabe (former Director of Operations) – to London to give evidence (confirming that Senator Kashamu was not the person sought for by the U.S. authorities) with the approval of the then Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.
It is on the basis of these two British judgments that several Nigerian courts have held that the NDLEA cannot take any further steps against Senator Kashamu. And when they did, in spite of the subsisting orders and judgments of the court, the action was dismissed. It is noteworthy that in the same report, the current Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who is the Chief Law Officer of the Federation has given indication that his office would not be a party to any illegality.
His position as expressed by his media aide is in tandem with global best practices in the comity of nations where any country that lacks regard for the rule of law is seen as a lawless society. There can be no extradition without the courts only illegality. Finally, our advice to Mr. Ofoyeju and Alhaji Giade is that they should leave Senator Kashamu alone.
He does not have any extradition case to answer. A dismissal is a bar to any further action before the court and it is therefore clear that when NDLEA says “extradition” what it actually means is “rendition” since it cannot go back to any Nigerian court after the dismissal. NDLEA should be called to order to avoid being used to perpetrate illegality, political vendetta and blackmail.
Media Adviser to Senator Buruji Kashamu