By Comrade Philip Ogenyi A
As a close watcher of the debate on renditions across the globe being championed by the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) and other international organisations to take a detail study of the on-going politically motivated KASHAMU-gate, in writing this article, I will put issues in perspective without attempting to dignify or demonize any individual knowing well that strategic diplomatic issues are involved.
At the first official visit of the US President, Barack Obama to Africa and precisely in Ghana, on he identified the problem of Africa to be the continent having strong men rather than strong institutions. Obama must have at some point had a few characters, who I will not mention for in this piece space constraint, in mind where he advocated for the strengthening of institutions.
The thinking is that unlike individual strong men, strong institutions, like in a democracy, are anchored on rule of law, fairness, justice and equity to all concerned. In this vein, laws must be clearly written down no matter how highly placed in the society everybody is bound to live by it whether it’s dictates favour ones feelings or not. This is why we cannot talk about rendition in Africa without critically looking at the case of Prince Buruji Kashamu and his indictment by the US authorities for alleged drug related offences.
The hues and cries against plans to forcefully abduct him should not in any way be misconstrued to mean obstruction of justice. No one should have anything against extradition, which Wikipedia described as “the official process whereby one country transfers a suspected or convicted criminal to another country. Between countries, extradition is normally regulated by treaties.”
This is varies sharply from what those against Kashamu are proposing. They are working on extraordinary rendition or irregular rendition, which our earlier source described as “the government sponsored kidnapping and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one country to another.”
Tragically, those championing rendition in Nigeria are in custody of all valid judgements in the United Kingdom, which had earlier vindicated Prince Buruji Kashamu and are fully aware that this man is innocent. Upon their realization that they cannot make a case against Kashamu before an impartial arbiter, the infamy of an illegal abduction or kidnapping remainskidnapping remains the only way left to satisfy their bruised ego. People of conscience must dare to say no to such people because Nigeria is not a banana republic.
An American judge, Charles R Norgle, District Judge of United States District Court for the Northern District Illinois, Eastern Division on the July 15th, 2010 ruled that Kashamu is not a fugitive. This is contrary to the information in the public domain that Kashamu has committed a crime and absconded from prosecution in the United States. According to Judge Norgle, a judge who ordinarily has no basis to side with Kashamu to have reasoned clearly that he is not a fugitive is a pointer to all discerning minds. In his words, “In Hijazi, the Petitioner had not fled the United States. Id at 412. The Seventh Circuit reasoned that the fugitive disentitlement doctrine there did not apply to Hijazi. Id.
In the instant case, there is also no indication that Kashamu has fled the United States.” Prior to this, a court in England presided over by district Judge Tim Workman on January 10, 2003 declared in his judgment (after 3 years of diligent trial) that he found the man not guiltyculpable. This judgment has not been appealed by the US authoritiesThe US authorities have not appealed this judgment and no steps have been taken further by the US until now that they are being instigated by some elements in Nigeria.
Pertinent points to note and reiterate include the fact that the US authorities have till date not made any extradition request to the Federal Government as admitted the Attorney General in his letter of January 28, 2015 and then separately by US George Norgle in 2013. Judge Posner of the US 9th Circuit pointed out in his judgment of September 15th 2014 that “Kashamu remains in Nigeria, living openly, a prominent businessman and a politician belonging to the ruling party. Although the United States has an extradition treaty with Nigeria, our government has made no effort to extradite him.”
The hullabaloo about the whole saga remains in the wildest imagination of Prince Kashamu’s enemies and those he has defeated through his humanitarian programmes for women and youth empowerment initiatives across the country. The only way to get him out of their way is the present cooked up stories which Nigerians have refused to accept.
The ongoing desperate attempt by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and his co-conspirators in the FBI and Homeland Security to flagrantly abuse the rights of Prince Buruji Kashamu and abduct him to the US is therefore an assault on the Senator-elect.
For an individual to use crude force and international connection to steal the mandate freely given to Prince Kashamu to represent his constituents in the National Assembly is viewed by Nigerians as the height of lawlessness and abuse of democratic ethos. The sad reality of the current witch-hunt is that it is a blemish on the democratic credentials of the United States of America long held in esteem as the bastion of rule of law, due process and civil rights around the world. Previously, conventional wisdom indicated The usual conviction was that of the US was a protector of being a father to all oppressed persons in the world.
Even if a rumour the plan is also a wrong signal concerning the incoming and the expected principled administration of General Muhammadu Buhari which is being perceived to have promised Obasanjo Prince Kashamu’s head. A mix of both presupposes that strong men will no longer have their way in Africa. ItWe hereby invite the U.S Government and the incoming administration to dissociate themselves from this nefarious plan.
is necessary that the Americans come out to reject this move by their government to infringe on the internationally accepted norm of conduct and civility.
On his part, General Muhammadu Buhari has a duty when he resumes as Commander in Chief and President of Federal Republic of Nigeria to ensure that the rights of every citizen of this country are protected under him.
The constitution did not state any that a Nigerian must belong to any specified political party that one must belong to be entitled to protectioned and thius means that we expect the right thing to be done and visibly seen to be done as we brace up for Change.
General Buhari bears a peculiar burden in this regard as he risks being again associated with the kidnapping of a Nigerian with the only difference this time being that the kidnappers will attempt to export the subject instead of trying to import him.
General Buhari must not allow anyone or group of persons nursing grudges to besmear his administration with scandals arising from illegal abduction and forceful exiling, which is what Kashamu’s case will amount to if internationally recognised processes are not followed.
Philip is a public affairs analyst and human rights crusader based in Abuja