Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Tuesday, ordered the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), not to take any further steps in their quest to extradite the Senator representing Ogun-East, Buruji Kashamu, to the United States.
Justice Babatunde Quadri, who issued the Preservative Order specifically ordered parties to the suit, including the AGF and NDLEA, to maintain status quo.
He gave the order while ruling on an ex-parte application filed and argued by Kashamu’s lawyer, J. O. Odubela (SAN).
In addition, Justice Quadri 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.
While arguing the application, Odubela said the actions of his client to resort to court followed renewed plans by the defendants to extradite his client to the US.
He urged the court to intervene to protect his client by restraining the defendants from abducting, arresting or detaining him with the intention to extradite him.
Odubela further submitted without the court’s intervention, the senator’s rights would have been breached before the hearing of his substantive suit.
“My lord, 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.”
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 revising the judgment noted that there was no evidence that the AGF 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 that despite this, the defendants had gone ahead to ask the United State’s government to make fresh request for Kashamu’s extradition.
To prove that the Federal Government had started taking steps, Odubela tendered a a certified true copy of a national newspaper of May 13, 2018, where it was reported that Federal Government had demanded fresh extradition request from the United States government.
In his ruling, Justice Quadri ordered parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the substantive 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 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 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 verdicts delivered by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, renewing the senator’s apprehension about a possible fresh move to have him extradited.