The Court of Appeal, on Friday, declared a serving senator representing Ogun East, Buruji Kashamu, free for extradition by the federal government to the United States of America to face trial in a drug-related offence.
The appellate court in a landmark judgment voided and set aside all orders made by 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 Mr Kashamu by Justice Okon Abang were invalid, nonsensical and unacceptable to laws because they were based on hearsays and speculations by Mr Kashamu.
The unanimous judgment was prepared by Mr Ikyeghi and was delivered by Justice Yargala Nimpar.
The court held that the hearsay that a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was instigating the extradition was not established under any law.
The appeal court said that an affidavit deposed to by the senator on the issue was 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 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, 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 Minister of Justice had in the appeal case argued by his counsel Mr Ngige prayed the Court of Appeal to set aside the two Federal High Court Judgments obtained by Mr Kashamu against his extradition by government and its security agencies.
The contention of government primarily was that Mr Kashamu got the two judgments in the lower court from Justice Okon Abang on mere hearsay and speculation to frustrate his extradition as requested by the America government.
Specifically, 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 also averred that Justice Abang erred in law by issuing 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.
Mr Ngige who cited several authorities in support of his submissions told the Appeal Court that the lower court ought to have declined granting of reliefs sought by Kashamu because the foundation of his suit was laid on hearsays from so many individuals.
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 and a retinue of lawyers urged the court to uphold the judgment of Abang on the ground that it was based on fact and not hearsays.
Fagbemi submitted that contrary to the Federal Government’s claim, the fear expressed by Kashamu on the plan to extradite him to America was based on facts deposed to by well-wishers of the Senator.
Justice Okon Abang had in his first judgment on the extradition matter delivered on January 6, 2014 against six respondents had stopped the extradition of Kashamu on the ground that due process of law was not followed.
The same judge in his second judgment on the same issue delivered on May 27, 2015 against 12 other respondents barred the respondents from sending the senator to America by force to go and face trial in his alleged indictment in an alleged drug offence.
The Federal Government had in 2014 moved to extradite Kashamu to USA to answer criminal charges filed against him in an American Court on drug offence.
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.