THE Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal in a landmark judgement on Friday paved way for the Federal Government for the extradition of a serving senator, Prince Buruji Kashamu to the United States of America to face trial in a drug-related offence.
The court set aside all orders made by a Justice Okon Abang and Justice Saliu Seidu of a Federal High Court between 2014 and 2017 restraining the government from proceeding with the extradition.
Delivering judgment in an appeal filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Justice Joseph Ikyeghi held that the orders granted Kashamu by Justice Okon Abang were invalid, nonsensical and unacceptable to laws because they were based on hearsays and speculations by Senator Kashamu.
The court also held that Kashamu’s averments that a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was instigating the extradition were not established under any law.
The appeal court said that an affidavit deposed to by the senator describing it as worthless and not in compliance with evidence act because the senator himself claimed that he was told by several persons who were not called to testify in court.
Justice Ikyeghi held that Justice Abang in his two judgments on the issue erred in law by playing undue reliance on the affidavit that offended evidence act to give judgment against the Federal government.
Consequently, the order of injunction stopping the extraction process was voided and set aside.
Another order which terminated the extradition process in the second judgment of Justice Abang was also set aside, having been issued in error by the Federal high court.
Justice Ikyeghi agreed with counsel to the Federal Government Chief Emeka Ngige SAN that a statutory body like the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) can only be prohibited from performing its statutory functions based on facts and not hearsays and speculations as in the instant case.
The AGF claimed in the appeal that Kashamu suppressed facts before the High Court to secure the restraining order against the Federal Government.
The AGF had also averred that Justice Abang erred in law by issuing the order in favour of the senator without evaluating the documentary evidence placed before him during the hearing and urged the appeal court to void the two judgments and set them aside.
He, therefore, urged the appellate court to set aside the decisions of the High Court so as to allow the federal government to execute the request of the USA government to extradite the senator to America.
But Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), who led Kashamu’s legal team comprising Chief Akin Olujimi SAN, Hakeem Afolabi SAN had urged the court to uphold the judgment of Abang on the ground that it was based on fact and not hearsays.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had in 2014 moved to extradite Kashamu to the USA to answer criminal charges filed against him in an American Court on the drug offense.
The American Government had approached the Nigerian Government to extradite the senator in line with the extradition treaty between the two countries.
But the Senator through his counsel rushed to the Federal High court with complains that due process of law was not followed in the extradition process.
He claimed in his suit that the person indicted for the alleged drug offense was his younger brother who had a striking resemblance with him and who had since died.
Ultimately, the preliminary objection filed by Senator Kashamu against the substantive appeals are dismissed as lacking in merits.
The Court of Appeal ruled that the oral statements of the threat of abduction and forcibly transporting Senator Kashamu to the US is insufficient having not been backed by concrete evidence.
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