Thursday, February 09, 2017

To Uphold Law Against Kidnapping: Nigerian Sen. Kashamu Petitions U.S. Supreme Court


February 8, 2017.
Brian Berg/
312.822.0505/312.282.8260 (m)

Senator Buruji Kashamu Petitions the United States Supreme Court

To Uphold Law Against International Kidnappings By U.S. Agents

February 8, 2017 (Chicago, IL) -- In response to the ruling of a federal court of appeals, which made factual findings and addressed the merits of a case despite having no factual record before it, lawyers for Buruji Kashamu, a duly elected federal Senator and businessman from Nigeria, today filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to review and reverse the ruling.

Attorneys Robert Cohen and Matthew Piers filed the lawsuit federal court in Chicago seeking a court order that would end and prevent attempts by agents of the United States government to unlawfully kidnap Senator Kashamu in Nigeria and forcibly bring him to the United States to face charges that were brought against him in 1998. Since the original charges were filed, two courts in Great Britain have determined that the evidence presented by the U.S. was insufficient to warrant his extradition and that the charges were the product of a case of mistaken identity.

“Our courts may not make findings of fact without evidence, and our law enforcement officials should never be allowed to violate the law – either here in the U.S. or in other nations,” said Matthew Piers, one of Senator Kashamu’s attorneys and a shareholder of the law firm Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. “These principles have never been more important than now, when the rule of law is under attack from both inside and out of our government. We hope this action will halt any further attempts by U.S. authorities to abduct the Senator, allow respect for the rulings of the British courts, and let Sen. Kashamu get on with his life and his important work in the Nigerian government,” Piers added.

The unprecedented ruling of the court of appeals was only the latest chapter in a bizarre tale that started nearly 18 years ago at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

Senator Kashamu’s troubles began in 1998 when the United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois added his to name to an indictment that is still pending today. The indictment was initially created in 1994 and was issued to 14 other defendants accused of importing and distributing narcotics in the U.S. – the most notable defendant being Piper Kernan, whose memoir inspired the hit television series “Orange is the New Black.” From the onset, Senator Kashamu has asserted the accusations against him are a case of mistaken identity, an assertion that has been supported by two British Courts, INTERPOL, and multiple Nigerian Court rulings.

Senator Kashamu filed a lawsuit in the United States in April 2015 alleging that U.S. officials, attempting to circumvent the rulings of the British courts, have been engaged in efforts to kidnap him and bring him to the United States for criminal prosecution. As he alleges, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit concluded, the United States has already tried to seize him once in 2015, and it failed only when the Nigerian courts prevented the abduction.

United States law, specifically the Mansfield Act, expressly forbids the U.S. government from effecting the arrest of foreign nationals overseas in connection with narcotics investigations. Yet the trial court in Mr. Kashamu’s case stripped this law of any practical effect and allowed the government to conduct illegal foreign abductions without recourse when it held that the target of the illegal seizure could not sue to enforce the Mansfield Act.

Kashamu’s attorneys assert that both the process and outcome of this case are alarming. The Court of Appeals has in effect concluded, without ever allowing the presentation of a shred of evidence, that the United States government did, in fact, attempt to seize Kashamu, a foreign national in a foreign country, but did so in coordination with local government officials. The Court of Appeals thus concluded that Sen. Kashamu has no recourse in the U.S. courts to prevent further such efforts so long as they are coordinated with local government officials, and even when, as here, those officials are, in turn, violating the laws of their country.

“Despite repeated confirmation of Sen. Kashamu’s innocence from both the Nigerian and British courts, and despite repeated attempts by Senator Kashamu to take legal action in the U.S, the U.S. courts not only refuse to dismiss the indictment against Senator Kashamu, but they are sanctioning illegal kidnappings and threatening the rule of law,” said Matthew Piers. “This is particularly troubling in the current political environment in the United States, when our courts will have to play a critical role in defending the rule of law.”

Robert Cohen is a partner of the law firm Frankel and Cohen; Matthew Piers is a shareholder in the law firm of Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick and Dym.

Link to the writ of certiorari : ploads/2017/02/Kashamu-Petition.pdf.

The Case of Senator Buruji Kashamu: A Brief Synopsis and Time Line

After two British Courts and multiple Nigerian courts exonerated him and repeatedly quashed attempts by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois to extradite him, lawyers for Nigerian Senator Buruji Kashamu continue to fight a nearly 18-year battle in the federal courts to end what has become a Kafkaesque nightmare built on the accusations of convicted heroin distributors who were involved with the also convicted story teller Piper Kerman (of Orange is the New Black notoriety).

Senator Kashamu’s troubles first began in 1998 when the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois added Senator Kashamu’s name to an indictment stemming from the 1994 O’Hare Airport arrest of Piper Kerman and indictment of 13 others accused of importing and distributing narcotics in the U.S.

From the beginning, Senator Kashamu has asserted that the accusations against him are a case of mistaken identity – an assertion that has been supported by the British Courts, INTERPOL, and multiple Nigerian Court rulings. In 1998, based on the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in 1994, British authorities detained Senator Kashamu at the request of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (then Patrick Fitzgerald). As a result, over the next five years, Mr. Kashamu endured incarceration in Britain and two separate British Court proceedings, both of which affirmed that he was not the person involved with Piper Kerman and others as alleged, and that they had confused Sen. Kashamu with his brother, Adewale Kashamu.

The first court ruling, in December of 1999, accused the United States of suppressing exculpatory evidence in obtaining an arrest order against Senator Kashamu and, citing the misconduct of the United States Attorney’s office, revoked the extradition order it had earlier granted on the basis that the suppression of exculpatory evidence had rendered the proceedings in which the order was granted “unfair.”

Meanwhile, U.S. authorities before that ruling was delivered had reissued the warrant for Kashamu’s re-arrest and immediately had him re-arraigned before the Bow Street Magistrate Court in London, ostensibly on new identity evidence. This triggered a new trial, spanning the next three years, and involving voluminous documentary evidence, and several witnesses from West Africa, including top officers of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (an agency with a long history of close partnership with the UN DEA). The trial culminated in a ruling delivered on the 10th of January 2003, which found that Senator Kashamu was not the person involved in the 1994 heroin importation - the crime upon which his desired extradition was based – and that the U.S. authorities had again proffered false evidence to the British courts.

In 2003, Senator Kashamu returned to Nigeria where he resumed his business activities. As he succeeded in business and in politics in Nigeria, he also had to suffer an orchestrated barrage of political accusations involving the indictment in the U.S.

Determined to clear his name and bring normalcy to his life, in 2009 and 2013 Mr. Kashamu filed two successive applications in U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois to have the indictment quashed, first on the basis of the rulings of the British Courts as well as the fact that he had never even been to the United States let alone been involved in drug trafficking and second, based on the 6th Amendment to the U.S.

Constitution that guarantees the right to a speedy trial. Up until this time, as admitted by the US authorities in the 2013 application, the US Government had made no further moves to have Kashamu extradited, citing their failure in the UK and the exoneration of Kashamu by the British Courts.

The District Court Judge, Charles Norgle, denied the two applications in opinions which found that the British judgments exonerating Kashamu should be ignored by the U.S. courts, and that the U.S. constitutional safeguard against undue delay in trial of criminal offenses would not apply to Kashamu.

Despite the hardships, in March of 2015, Mr. Kashamu became a democratically elected Nigerian national Senator, representing the Ogun East Senatorial District in Nigeria. Yet his success at the ballot box angered and emboldened his vanquished political adversaries who, according to court papers filed in both the U.S. and Nigeria, colluded to kidnap the newly elected senator and hand him over to U.S. agents for exportation to the U.S. to face the still pending indictment.

Kashamu immediately filed two different actions, one in Nigeria seeking restraining orders on the Nigerian law enforcement authorities to enjoin any collaboration with U.S. agents for his rendition as planned and the other, on the basis of the Mansfield Act, in the U.S. District Court seeking restraining orders on the U.S. DEA and Homeland Security officials to prohibit any attempt to arrest him in Nigeria.

The allegations in the lawsuit proved to be accurate when in May of 2015 the Senator’s home in Nigeria was invaded and occupied for six days by Nigeria's National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) under the direction of two United States agents, believed to be from the Drug Enforcement Administration (United States DEA).

Kashamu’s lawyers, in emergency proceedings in the already pending action in the Nigerian court, obtained an order halting the illegal abduction attempt. In Nigeria, two separate federal courts ordered the NDLEA to vacate Kashamu’s residence, and ruled that in light of the rulings of the British courts, Kashamu could not be extradited from Nigeria.

In Chicago, Kashamu’s legal counsel amended the complaint in the pending action to include the facts of the attempted abduction, and requested injunctive and declaratory relief to ensure any further abduction attempts by U.S. law enforcement officials against the Senator would be deemed illegal. That case was dismissed in the district court, and affirmed on appeal, and is now the subject of a petition to the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari.

Regardless of the orders of the Nigerian courts, the U.S. authorities in Nigeria have continued to express an intention to attempt to seize Senator Kashamu, and allegedly are continuing to conspire with the Senator’s political rivals. At the same time, despite repeated confirmations of innocence from both the Nigerian and the international community, and despite repeated attempts by the Senator to take legal action in the U.S. to clear his name, the U.S. Courts have declined to dismiss the indictment or take action to stop efforts to abduct him in violation of International, United States and Nigerian law.

For nearly two decades the Senator has battled in both Nigeria and the United States to clear his reputation and to be allowed to represent his constituents without the cloud of these allegations over his head.

A Time Line

Early 90’s - Kashamu owns Societe d’Egrenage Industrial de Coton du Benin – lucrative cotton manufacturer. Throughout UK detainment he also maintains he is an informant for the NDLEA.

1994 – Indictment is created against named conspirators involved in drug distribution ring in U.S.

1998 – Kashamu’s name is added to the indictment and he is incarcerated in London (Case No. 94 CR

U.S. v. Kashamu) pursuant to indictment pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

1999 – General Obasanjo becomes first Civilian president – PDP (People Democratic Party).

2000 – Extradition proceedings culminate in habeas corpus proceedings at the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division in London on October 6. Lord Justice Pill quashes the committal order because U.S. authorities had not disclosed the flawed ID process used to incriminate Kashamu. Immediately upon release, Kashamu is re-arrested because the U.S. had commenced a 2nd extradition proceeding before the high court’s verdict.

2003 – On Jan 10th Judge Tim Workman, Bow Street Magistrate Court in London – finds allegations against Kashamu to be a case of mistaken identity and that it was Kashamu’s brother who bore a "striking resemblance" to him who was the member of the alleged conspiracy which formed the basis for the indictment. Kashamu is released and moves to Nigeria.

2008 – INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) conducts investigation into Kashamu and determines he is not a wanted suspect. Kashamu begins exploring politics but is harassed by political rivals including those in the Attorney General’s Office and those who have ties with the Nigerian National Drug Enforcement Agency.

2009 – In the U.S. Kashamu’s lawyers file in the U.S. District Court of the Northern Illinois to dismiss indictment arguing that English Courts’ ruling should eliminate U.S. indictment. Norgle denies application.

2010 – In the U.S. Orange is the New Black is published. In Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan becomes third elected President in the Nigerian fourth Republic following the second President’s untimely death of cancer. Kashamu forms an alliance with the ex-President, Olusegun Obasanjo, as a leader of the ruling party in his home State, Ogun State.

2009-2012 – Kashamu creates political alliances with Jonathan and various members of the PDP, but gains both enemies and power as he works to democratize the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party). He falls out with Obasanjo on this basis too and immediately becomes the target of several attacks in the media, and the orchestrated plan is to have him removed from Nigeria.

2013 – Kashamu files second attempt to dismiss indictment in front of Judge Norgle based on a claim of 6th amendment right to a speedy trial. Norgle eventually denied and the decision was again affirmed by Judge Posner. Denial in U.S. Court emboldens Kashamu’s political rivals, including those who hold positions in law enforcement.

2014 – Kashamu brings second action against Nigerian law enforcement, AGF, and Otunba Gbenga Daniel (former Governor of Ogun State) claiming that based on the London Court ruling and the INTERPOL investigation, law enforcement and AGF can’t act against Kashamu pertaining to the US indictment. The court agreed and mandated Kashamu be left alone.

September – United State Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit denies petition for Writ of Mandamus (submitted Aug. 18, decided Sept. 15).

May - Norgle denies Kashamu’s motion to dismiss indictment based on violation of 5th and 6th amendment rights. United States allegedly began to make arrangements with Nigerian officials and powerful political figures in Nigeria to have Kashamu seized without proper legal authority and flown to the United States.

March 29 – Kashamu is elected as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (PDP), representing the Ogun East Senatorial District of Ogun State. He defeats opponent Dapo Abiodun (All Progressives Congress, APC.) Mohammed Buhari – the former military head of state – is elected president.

April – Kashamu receives information that APC political rivals whom he vanquished in election and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo are colluding with the U.S. to remove Kashamu by force from Nigeria because of his election. Kashamu files suit in Nigeria to stop law enforcement collusion with his political adversaries and U.S. agents to abduct or extradite him.

April 17 - Nigerian Federal High Court grants interim injunction restraining Nigerian Federal Attorney General, NDLEA and other agencies in Nigeria from arresting or taking any steps against Kashamu until pending case is determined.

May 9 – In U.S., through attorneys, Kashumu files for injunctive relief from imminent danger.

May 4 – Alleged extradition request (diplomatic note) from the United States supported by affidavit from Diane MacArthur, Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois is sent to the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister instead of AG, violating normal protocol.

May 22 – In U.S., Kashamu’s case is moved from Executive Committee and reassigned to Norgle because of the pending 1998 case.

May 23 – Kashamu’s house is surrounded by Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) agents allegedly working under the direction of U.S. DEA and ICE agents armed with an illegally issued provisional warrant.

May 26 – Lawyers for Kashamu demand arrest warrant, and when NDLEA cannot provide any recourse to the court in the pending matter to enforce interim restraining order by contempt application, Kashamu is brought against the Attorney General of Nigeria and the NDLEA.

Federal High Court Lagos Division declares that attempted kidnapping and attempt at extradition are illegal and orders NDLEA to vacate Kashamu’s premises.

May 27 – Judgement delivered in substantive proceedings declaring attempts against Kashamu, whether by abduction/rendition or by extradition, as illegal and restrains Nigerian Federal Attorney General and NDLEA from further attempts at abducting or extraditing Kashamu.

May 28 – NDLEA and two U.S. agents vacated the premises while Nigerian AG files formal extradition proceedings seeking a new arrest warrant. Federal Judge denies request for warrant and fixes application for hearing on the merits.

June 6 – In U.S., Kashamu’s motion to transfer his case to the Executive Committee for reassignment is denied by Judge Norgle.

July 1– Nigerian federal court dismisses the Attorney General’s extradition application and rules that there shall be no further attempts at arresting Kashamu or taking his property.

July 10 – In U.S., first amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory relief is filed.

August 14 – In U.S., Memo in support of Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint is filed.

November 18 - Appeal of Kashamu’s case is submitted to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

January 23 – U.S. Appellate Court Judge Richard Posner upholds a lower court’s decision to toss out Senator Kashamu’s lawsuit against the American government.

Despite previous verdicts from Great Britain and Nigerian courts exonerating Kashamu, the decision provides no recourse preventing the U.S. from abducting and extraditing him for criminal prosecution.

February 7 – A petition for a writ of certiorari is filed asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reverse the January 23 ruling.

1 comment:

Ascah said...

The unprecedented ruling of the court of appeals was absurd.