The Court of Appeal has fixed Thursday February 8, 2018 to determine the merit of all suits between the Federal Government as represented by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice and a serving senator, Prince Buruji Kashamu in an appeal filled by the Federal Government seeking to extradite the lawmaker to the United State of America (USA) to answer criminal charges on drug related offences.
A three man panel of the court constituted by its president, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa is expected to determine the fate of the senator in a bid by the federal government to extradite him to the United States of America to answer criminal charges.
Lead counsel to the Federal Government in the legal tussle and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Chief Emeka Ngige confirmed to judiciary journalists in Abuja that the case has been fixed for Thursday this week for determination of all contending issues.
The senior lawyer said that hearing notices have been issued to all parties to be in court for the matter to be resolved in line with provisions of the law especially the Extradition Treaty between the Governments of Nigeria and the United States of America.
The office of the AGF filed the appeal on behalf of the Federal Government against the Judgments of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, and another one by Justice Okon Abang of Abuja Division which put the planned extradition on hold through a restraining order on the ground that due process of law was not followed.
The AGF in the appeal is praying the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Buba and that of Justice Abang on the ground of miscarriage of justice.
He is contending that Kashamu suppressed facts before the lower court to secure the restraining order against his extradition.
The AGF also averred that the two judges erred in law by issuing order in favour of the senator without evaluating the documentary evidence placed before them during the hearing and prayed the Court of Appeal to void and set aside the two judgements.
The Federal Government had moved to extradite Kashamu to the USA to answer criminal charges on his alleged involvement and indictment in hard drugs offences.
The American Government had approached the Nigerian Government to extradite the Senator but the Senator through his counsel rushed to the Federal High Court with complaints that due process of law was not followed in the extradition process.
He specially alleged that no court order was obtained before the move to extradite him was being executed.
A Federal High Court had in a ruling by Justices Buba and Abang put the extradition on hold pending the time the government will follow the due process of law.
The suit involving the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other security agencies as appellants shifted to the Court of Appeal for determination following the withdrawal of other aspects of the case at the Federal High Court in Abuja in which Buruji filed contempt charges against the AGF and NDLEA.
The returning of parties in the legal battle to the appellate court followed the withdrawal of all motions filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja by Senator Kashamu in which he sought court order to stop the alleged plan by government to forcefully abduct him and ferry him to America against subsisting court orders.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole had struck out the motions following their withdrawal by Chief Akin Olujimi SAN on behalf of the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial district in the Senate.
Olujimi, a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice when he appeared before Justice Kolawole had announced that he was withdrawing the motions following affidavit filed at the Court in Abuja by the Federal government and the NDLEA that they will not extradite the senator until all the court cases are disposed of by courts.
“I believe the next appropriate step to take in the circumstances and in view of the assurance that my client will not be extradited is to go back to the Court of Appeal to continue with the appeal filed by the appellant”.
“I have consulted with my colleague, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) in this matter for Senator Buruji and we have agreed as lawyers to the senator that we go back to the Court of Appeal to pursue the appeal filed by the government against the judgments in favour of client”, he said.
Justice Kolawole had upon the withdrawal of all motions by Kashamu struck them out and ordered parties to go back to the Court of Appeal to pursue the substantive appeal in the extradition legal battle
Three prominent lawyers, Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) have already been lined up by Senator Kashamu to defend him in the appeal suit.