The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) not to take any further steps in their alleged bid to have the serving Senator representing Ogun-East, Buruji Kashamu, extradited to the United States.
Justice Babatunde Quadri, ruling on an ex-parte application filed and argued by Kashamu’s lawyer, J. O. Odubela (SAN), ordered parties to the suit, including the attorney general and NDLEA, as respondents, to maintain status quo.
The judge also granted leave to the applicant to serve processes in relation to the suit, including the originating summons on NDLEA outside the jurisdiction of the court at 4 Shaw Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Odubela had, while arguing the application, said his client resorted to seeking the court’s protection upon being informed that the respondents had renewed the plans to extradite his client to the US.
The lawyer said his client had been able to establish that the court needed to intervene to protect him.
He urged the court to restrain the defendants from abducting, arresting or detaining him with the intention to extradite him.
Urging the court to grant his client’s ex parte application, Odubela said without the court’s intervention, the senator’s rights would have been breached before the hearing of his substantive suit.
“We have shown that the applicant had even been tried in England and exonerated.
“Our contention is whether, in view of the judgment of the court in England, the Federal Government or any of its agencies can still request the US to file a fresh request for the extradition of the applicant,” said Odubela.
Responding to a question posed by the judge, Odubela said the Court of Appeal gave judgment on May 4, 2018, reversing the judgment by the Federal High Court, Lagos, which had prohibited the federal government from commencing extradition proceedings against Kashamu.
According to the lawyer, the Court of Appeal, in reversing the judgement, noted that there was no evidence that the attorney general and NDLEA were taking steps to effect his extradition as at when the judgment was given.
Odubela added that his client had appealed to the Supreme Court and filed a motion seeking an injunction against the defendant.
He added that despite this, the defendants had gone ahead to ask the United States government to make fresh request for Kashamu’s extradition.
To prove that the federal government had started taking steps, Odubela tendered a certified true copy of The Punch newspaper of May 13, 2018, where it was reported that the federal government had demanded fresh extradition request from the United States government.
In his ruling, Justice Quadri ordered the parties to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the substantive suit, in line with the doctrine of lis pendis.
He adjourned till September 24 for the hearing of the substantive suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/530/18.
It is expected that before then, the AGF’s office would have responded to the suit.
The immediate past attorney-general and minister of justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, had, in the twilight of the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, filed the extradition application on May 28, 2015 upon a request by the US.
The foreign nation, in its request, asked the Nigerian government to surrender Kashamu to be prosecuted on one count of 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.
But the Court of Appeal, Lagos, in its May 4, 2018 judgment, set aside the verdict delivered by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, renewing the senator’s apprehension about a possible fresh move to have him extradited.