For the second time in one week, the Federal High Court in Abuja has refused to grant order of interim injunction against the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) seeking to stop the two respondents from their plan to extradite a serving senator, Prince Buruji Kashamu to the United States for the purpose of trial in an alleged criminal offence.
Justice Babatunde Quadiri on Tuesday declined to issue injunction order against AGF and NDLEA when an ex-parte application was argued before him by counsel to the Senator, Mr. Olusegun Odubela SAN.
The judge said that in view of the sensitivity of the issue in dispute, merit of justice will not be served if the two respondents (AGF and NDLEA) are restrained on the extradition matter at the ex-parte stage.
Instead, he ordered the senator to put the AGF and NDLEA on notice on the pendency of the suit against them.
In his ruling on the motion, Justice Quadiri ordered the three parties in the matter to maintain status-quo pending the hearing on the originating summon filed by Kashamu against AGF and NDLEA on his planned extradition.
Kashamu had, in the ex-parte motion filed on May 18, prayed the court to restrain the AGF and NDLEA from arresting, detaining and extraditing him to the United States of America (USA) to face trial in drug-related charges.
The senator tendered a publication of Punch Newspaper of May 13, 2018 entitled: “AGF requests for extradition process on Kashamu” to establish an alleged fact that the AGF office was making move on his extradition.
He also told the Judge that one Shehu Abubakar, a staff in the AGF office was the person who informed him of the concluded plan by AGF and NDLEA to extradite him based on the judgments of the Court of Appeal delivered on May 4 which voided all restraining orders granted in favor of Kashamu.
Kashamu argued that twice, the courts in the United Kingdom have exonerated him on the alleged drug offence and that his fundamental human rights will be breached if the AGF and NDLEA are not restrained from taking further steps on the issue.
Justice Quadiri, while refusing to restrain the AGF and NDLEA, said he would prefer to give fair hearing to parties in the suit
The judge granted an order to serve the originating summon on NDLEA in the Lagos office on the pendency of the court action.
Meanwhile, hearing in the originating summon has been fixed for September 24 this year.
Another Federal High Court in Abuja had on May 30 refused to stop the execution of the two judgments secured by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice against the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial district in the Senate.
The court had held that granting the request by Kashamu to stay the appellate court decisions against him in an ex-parte application will be against the rule of law and natural justice.
In a ruling on the first ex-parte application filed against the AGF and the NDLEA, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed had rather asked the senator to put the AGF and NDLEA on notice in respect of his fresh suit.
Justice Mohammed noted that since what the senator sought in his originating summon was to prevent his extradition, it will be unfair against the AGF and NDLEA to put the extradition on hold without going into the merit of the whole issue as contained in the originating summon.
The Judge therefore declined to stop the implementation of the appeal verdict delivered on May 4 this year.
Kashamu had through his counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon SAN, in the ex-parte motion, argued that he was afraid and apprehensive that the federal government may likely pick him and extradite him to USA on the strength of the Court of Appeal Judgments.
He told Justice Mohammed that if the extradition is executed via the judgments of the appellate court, his fundamental right to freedom of liberty will be jeopardized.
The senior lawyer argued that if Senator Kashamu is picked by the federal government through the NDLEA; no court in Nigeria will have jurisdiction to save him because he (Kashamu) would have been flown to a foreign country.
Izinyon SAN insisted that there is likelihood now of his client being picked by the Federal Government and the NDLEA, adding that his fundamental human rights will be breached in the process.
But Justice Mohammed stood his ground that his court was not persuaded to stop the appellate court judgment but will rather wish that Kashamu puts both AGF and NDLEA on notice to show cause on why the two judgments against the senator should not be stayed from execution.
The Judge consequently fixed July 2 for the parties involved to appear before him.
The Court of Appeal had on May 4 cleared the coast 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.