The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, yesterday, held that Senator Buruji Kashamu could be arrested by law enforcement agencies if the need arises. The court, by the pronouncements, nullified the decision of a Federal High Court, which prohibited the arrest of Kashamu by Nigerian law enforcement agencies.
The appeal court panel, led by Justice Yargata Nimpar, overturned the lower court ruling delivered by Okon Abang in 2015.Kashamu, a serving senator representing Ogun East in the National Assembly, had filed the suit, seeking to enforce his fundamental rights, saying he had uncovered a purported plot by Nigerian security agencies to abduct and extradite him to the United States (US).
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), had insisted that Kashamu is sought in the US on drugs charges. But the senator had continued to deny the allegations, saying it was a case of mistaken identity for which a British court had acquitted him.
In May 2015, NDLEA laid a siege to Kashamu’s residence in Lagos in a bid to arrest and extradite him to the US to face drugs charges. For days, Kashamu reportedly locked himself inside the fortified house and refused to submit himself to federal authorities. His legal counsel successfully got a restraining order at the lower court, forbidding the NDLEA from carrying out the arrest.
In obedience, the agency subsequently withdrew its personnel, thereby ending the six-day siege at his residence. The office of the AGF filed several submissions before the lower court, seeking to arrest Kashamu for extradition, but the attempts were frustrated by several injunctions granted by Justice Abang, prompting the AGF to seek redress at the appellate court.
In its decision yesterday, the court set aside the orders of perpetual injunction granted in favour of Kashamu against the Nigerian government, the AGF, State Security Service (SSS), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the NDLEA.
The court ruled that the oral statements of threat of abduction and attempted transfer of the respondent to the US are insufficient, having not been backed by concrete evidence.
It also held that the AGF is the chief law officer of the country and the chief law officer of the cause of justice and as such, has the constitutional and legal powers to enforce laws, adding that the Federal High Court should not have granted the injunction sought by Kashamu on mere speculation of abduction and kidnapping. Consequently, the court ruled that the appeal has merit and set aside the order of perpetual injunction secured by Kashamu.
07 May, 2018