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Kashamu vs FG: Supreme Court begins hearing on extradition suit

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The Supreme Court will on Thursday, July 12 open hearing on the extradition appeal filed by a serving Senator, Prince Buruji Kashamu to challenge the Court of Appeal judgment delivered in favour of the Attorney General of the Federation on the bid to extradite the Senator to the United States of America (USA) to face trial in an alleged hard drug trafficking offence.

The Apex Court is to determine the popularity of the two judgments delivered in favour of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) by the Lagos division of Court of Appeal on May 4 this year.

A 5 man panel of the court is expected to open the suit for hearing on Thursday when decisions are expected to be made in respect of the appeal.

Kashamu had in his notice of appeal to the Supreme Court complained that the Court of Appeal erred in law by voiding and setting aside the two judgments of the Federal High Court which barred Federal Government from going ahead with his extradition.

The embattled senator is praying the Supreme Court to set aside the decisions of the Court of Appeal as they affected him.

But the AGF, who is acting on behalf of the Federal Government, has joined issues with him at the Supreme Court with a counter prayer that the Apex Court should uphold the judgments of the Court of Appeal which cleared coast for Kashamu’s extradition.

The AGF claimed that the Appeal Court was right in setting aside the judgments of the High Court because they were based on hearsay evidence of Kashamu before the court.

The AGF urged the Supreme Court to allow the judgments of the Court of Appeal to enable the Federal government extradite the Senator to USA to prove his innocence or otherwise in the hard drug criminal charge filed against him by the American government since 2015 when he was alleged to have escaped to Nigeria.

Legal luminary, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, is leading the legal team of the Senator at the Supreme Court while Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, is leading the Federal Government legal team.

The Court of Appeal had on May 4 cleared the coast for the federal government for the federal government to extradite the senator, who had engaged government in a long drawn legal battle since 2014.

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.

In a judgment in an appeal filed by the AGF, 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 unanimous judgment was prepared by Justice Ikyeghi and was delivered by Justice Yargata 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 had agreed with counsel to the Federal Government, Ngige, 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.

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