Court rules against Kashamu’s suit to jail NDLEA chairman
Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday refused to commit the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ahmed Giade, to prison.
He said the committal proceedings initiated by Senator Buruji Kashamu, who the NDLEA is seeking to extradite to the United States to face drug-related charges, had become academic.
He said a similar application was decided by another judge of the court, Justice Okon Abang.
Justice Abang had barred the NDLEA from giving effect to a warrant of arrest for Kashamu.
He nullified the provisional warrant of arrest secured by the NDLEA against Kashamu.
Justice Abang also declared that until the judgment of the court against extradition was appealed against and set aside by the Court of Appeal, no extradition proceedings could commence against Kashamu.
The judge held that the provisional warrant of arrest was obtained without jurisdiction as the attention of the judge who signed it was not drawn to the existing order barring NDLEA and the AGF from taking any steps in the extradition process.
The court declared the proceedings before the Abuja Court a nullity.
Yesterday, Justice Buba said the order must be complied with until set aside by a superior court.
The judge also dismissed a preliminary objection filed by the NDLEA, saying from the processes before him, he was satisfied that the defendants were properly served.
The judge went on to determine the merit of the contempt application, and held that since Justice Abang had previously ruled on a similar case, the instant suit had become an academic exercise and unnecessary.
“There should be no overzealous conduct from either of the parties. Government agencies must abide by the rule of law to avoid anarchy.
“They (AGF and NDLEA chairman) should be of good behaviour until their appeal is determined
“No matter how aggrieved, they should abide by the order of court until there is a counter order from a superior court.
“For the avoidance of doubt, orders of Justice Abang are still subsisting and must be complied with,” Justice Buba held.
Oluyede claimed that the alleged contemnors wilfully and deliberately violated the judgment and court order under the pretense of responding to a request for Kashamu’s extradition made by the US government regarding allegations of the applicant’s complicity in narcotic offences committed in the US in 1994, a matter which Kashamu said had been decided by a British Court in 2003.
He accused Giade of plotting to pre-empt the judicial process by deploying about 50 armed NDLEA officials, pursuant to the verbal instruction of the AGF, to invade Kashamu’s home around 4am on May 23.
The AGF had appealed against earlier orders made by Justice Buba and Justice Abang barring security agencies from arresting or extraditing Senator Kashamu over drug charges in the United States.
Justice Buba had, on June 8, barred the NDLEA from extraditing Kashamu, and held that the respondents shall not in the face of the court’s subsisting judgments/orders and pending suit enforce the May 25 warrant of arrest or arraign Kashamu based on the extradition process filed on May 28.
But in the appeal filed on the AGF’s behalf by Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN), the appellant said Justice Buba ought to have dismissed Kashamu’s suit as an abuse of court process.
It said the court had no supervisory jurisdiction over another Federal High Court of coordinate jurisdiction hearing extradition proceedings duly commenced before it.
Besides, it said the court cannot fetter the hands of security or prosecuting agencies in the lawful discharge of their functions.
According to the AGF, Justice Buba’s order was made without jurisdiction and sought to shield a fugitive from facing a duly initiated extradition.
Justice Abang, on May 27, held that Kashamu should not be abducted, kidnapped or unlawfully arrested and taken to America by force to face criminal charges without the respondents following the provisions of Extradition Act 2004.
The AGF, in the appeal against the ruling, said Justice Abang based his judgment on assumptions and speculations which were not permitted in judicial proceedings.
Besides, the appellant said Kashamu’s claims as formulated in his originating processes do not fall within the ambit of the provisions of Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution.
“There is a presumption that the State as represented by 1st -12th Respondents cannot engage in criminal activities such as ‘abduction’ or ‘kidnapping’ of her citizens which formed the kernel of the applicant’s case,” the appellant said.