The Federal Government has appealed against the court orders made by Justice Ibrahim Buba and Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Lagos, barring security agencies from arresting or extraditing Senator Buruji Kashamu over drug charges in the United States.
Justice Buba on June 8 barred the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) from extraditing Kashamu.
The judge had ordered 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.
He said it was “so as not to get conflicting orders whilst cases are pending and judgments/orders subsisting, including committal proceedings.”
But in the appeal filed on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation 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 has 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 seeks to shield a fugitive from facing a duly initiated extradition.
The appellant added that the trial judge erred in law in making the order without hearing from the AGF, thereby breaching his right to fair hearing.
“The trial court is under obligation to hear all the parties before making the order that seeks to prevent the 1st Respondent from performing his statutory duties under the Extradition Act Cap E25 LFN 2004.
“Failure to hear the first respondent (AGF) before making the order is fatal to the proceedings. The first respondent was not afforded fair hearing in the proceedings,” the appellant said.
It, therefore, sought orders allowing the appeal; setting aside the decision of the lower court contained in the June 8 ruling and an order dismissing Kashamu’s suit.
Ngige yesterday told Justice Buba that he also filed a stay of execution of the order at the Court of Appeal pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.
He also sought an order staying further proceedings in the suit before Justice Buba pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.
Ngige said Kashamu was seeking to prevent federal agencies from performing their statutory duties under the Extradition Act.
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.
He said taking Kashamu out of the country by force or without his consent would constitute a breach of his fundamental rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement as enshrined in sections 35(I) and 40 of 1999 Constitution as amended.
But the AGF, in the appeal, said Justice Abang based his judgment on assumptions and speculations which are 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.
Speaking to newsmen after yesterday proceedings before Justice Buba, Ngige faulted the claim that two United Kingdom Courts exonerated the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District of drug crime, insisting that the claim was not only untrue, but misleading.
Accordinf to the Senior Advocate, the claim was aimed at achieving sinister motive.
His words: “That is the misleading aspect of the whole thing. Kashamu was not tried before the British Courts. He only went through extradition proceeding and the extradition application failed based on the fact before the court.
“Now, that does not and cannot constitute a bar on further extradition proceeding or trial for drug crime in any other country or other court,” Ngige said.
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