Wanted in the US for Drug Offences, Buruji Kashamu Bares it All
In a no-holds barred account of his life, a businessman and hotelier, Prince Buruji Kashamu dismissed the insinuations that he lives a double life. He described the recent remarks about his personality by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as uncharitable. Hopewell Ukpebor writes
Where he sat, he cut a figure of a happy and extremely satisfied man. His demeanour suggested he has less or nothing to worry about. Yes, his penchant for amusing his audience with jokes was not lost on them all through the conversation. To break the ice, he said: “former President Olusegun Obasanjo is a joker. He is a father of lies who thrives on deceit. If it is true that I was a drug baron why didn’t Obasanjo prosecute me when he was the president of Nigeria? He’s not telling the truth.”
Prince Buruji Kashamu, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party and businessman on a recent Tuesday, took a swipe at former President Obasanjo’s most recent comment about his personality, describing it as vicious and filthy insinuation.
Yes, Obasanjo had in statement on Monday, October 13, referred to Kashamu as a drug baron on United States’ wanted list. He said: “For instance, as a former President of Nigeria, the Chairman of West Africa Commission on Drug and a member of Global Commission on Drug, I cannot accept that the Zonal leader of my political Party and, worse still in my zone, will be an indicted drug baron wanted in America. How do I explain that to friends outside Nigeria?”
Now Kashamu has thrown the question back with the poser, “Let Obasanjo’s friends outside Nigeria asked him what he was doing with me, if truly I was a drug baron. Why did he introduce me to all his friends and associates like Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Akinwunmi Adesina, Caleb Olubolade and many others as a respectable man and his political saviour in Ogun State? Why did he and the former Beninoise President Matthew Kerekou ask the relevant security agencies to give truthful evidence that exonerated me of any drug-related crime?”
“The reason I have become the target of Obasanjo’s wicked campaign of calumny and blackmail is his perceived loss of political relevance in Ogun State and the South West. He is against the second term ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan and he had wanted to use the erstwhile National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; the former National Auditor, Bode Mustapha and the ex-National Vice-Chairman, Segun Oni, to thwart Mr. President’s re-election,” Kashamu said. “I resisted him based on principle.”
For Kashamu, Obasanjo’s lost voice in the political circuit in the South West has been the reason for his problem. He said: “I was Obasanjo’s confidant. I was visiting him in otta every week. We were so close to an extent that I used to help him find best clothes that suit his occasion in his bedroom. How can he turn around to say I was a drug baron? He’s full of lies. When I was going around with Obasanjo he knew that I had no case to answer anywhere. He knew that my arrest in London was a mistake of identity, he knew that I was freed when nothing was found against me and he knew how the Interpol in Nigeria and Benin Republic as well as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) came to the London courts in 2000/2001 to give evidence during my incarceration and trial and that also explained why when I returned I became his associate.”
And like a man who has nothing to hide, Kashamu brought out strings of legal documents as evidence to convince anyone who cares that his arrest in London and purported search warrant for which Obasanjo is now allegedly vilifying him was a dead issue.
For instance, one of such documents, a letter to him from German Consulate in Lagos cleared Kashamu of any wrong doing. Part of the letter reads: “Referring to your application, you are aware that the Consulate General was initially not in a position to issue the requested visa. The reason for the occurred delay was due to the fact that search warrant for you initiated by the US. Government was still valid.
Based on your letter and the additional documents provided by you, the Consulate General took up the case with the German Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BKA). After requesting additional information on this warrant the BKA was informed by the US authorities at the end of August that its search warrant has been cancelled. As a consequence, the equivalent search warrant of Interpol has also been withdrawn with immediate effect. While the warrant is no longer an obstacle to your visa application I would like to suggest you submit a new visa application and that you withdraw your outdated application…”
The letter from the German Consulate in response to Kashamu’s appeal over a visa refusal by the consulate was signed by its First Secretary named Matten.
To be sure, he then made reference to how he was paraded in a London court for identification by people familiar with the identity of the real suspect in the drug case. “I was paraded for identification during my trial and the people said I wasn’t the person. As I have continually stated, I have never in my life stepped my feet into the U.S neither do I have any business there. I was wrongly accused, arrested, tried and freed over the same indictment. Indeed, my arrest, detention and trial were at its behest and the U.S authorities fully participated in the whole extradition proceedings.
“If after a full trial on the basis of the same indictment, the British courts exonerated me, which other indictment is Obasanjo talking about? What happens to the general principle of International Law on double-jeopardy? It is commonsensical that even without any judicial pronouncement the indictment is technically dead. I cannot be tried by the same parties over the same issues again.”
He added: “ Nigeria Drug Law and Enforcement Agency(NDLEA) has cleared me. When I won the case in London, the United States did not appeal, because it was clear to them that I wasn’t the person they were looking for. Obasanjo should allow the law to work. Is he saying there is no judiciary or Attoney General in this country or elsewhere?”
Now, Kashamu who is the Chairman of the Organisation and Mobilisation Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South West said rather than him, it was Obasanjo who has a smeared integrity as a leader based on his past deeds. “In his usual holier-than-thou manner, he talked about not being able to work with me because of his principles, honour and integrity. But the questions Nigerians should ask him are: where were his principles when he used to take me into the inner recesses of his abode?
“Where was his honour when he served me breakfast, lunch and dinner in his Hilltop mansion? Where was his integrity when he mounted the rostrum to sing my praises, praying for me as he did in May 2010 during a reception for the former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye? I can go on and on,” he said.
He continued: “Contrary to Obasanjo’s claim, I am just one of the leaders of the party in the South West. I am one of the party’s foot soldiers in the zone and it is in that capacity that I am made the Chairman of the Organisation and Mobilisation Committee for the South West PDP. The party in the zone has not been handed over to anyone but to its relevant organs and structures. It is indeed preposterous for anyone to call me the leader of the party in a zone that parades political juggernauts like Governor-Elect Ayo Fayose, Chief Olabode George, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, Senator Lekan Balogun, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Senator Teslim Folarin, Alhaji Yekeen Adeojo, Senator Clement Awoyelu, Senator Bode Olajumoke and a host of others.
And as Kashamu revealed what he considered the truth behind his ordeal, he turned his head and pointed in the direction of a plaque mounted on the wall of his office. It was honour from abroad. Cambridge Graduate University, a global campus university has recently honoured him a doctor of letter (Phd). In the citation of the award, Kashamu was commended for his extraordinary service and dedication to Nigeria’s growth.
His final word for Obasanjo was a simple one, “Before Obasanjo’s very eyes, Jonathan will win 2015 election, the PDP in the South West is on a rebound and we are winning elections free and square unlike what obtained during his reign when contrived electoral victories were being easily upturned.”
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