By Judith Ufford
HE spoke with everything about him, his size, height and voice. His entire six feet height, huge body and voice all lent credence to the fact that Prince Buruji Kashamu was angry.
How dared Obasanjo, referring to former president Olusegun Obasanjo, talk about morality and integrit? he fumed.
“Where was his morality and integrity when I was busy running errands for him”? he asked. “Let’s ask him, how many of his ex- president friends in other parts of the world have the kind of wealth he has as an ex- president? They don’t have money. Whatever they have, they made from their consultancies.
Obasanjo is talking about morality and integrity, he must be a joker. He is supposed to be one of the fathers of Nigeria, particularly in Yorubaland, just as Gowon and Shagari are to the nation. Do you see these ones throwing their weight around, busybody over matters that don’t concern them? No, but it has to be Obasanjo because he wants to dominate everyone, and when you refuse, all hell is let loose.’’
He suddenly extended a photograph to me showing himself and two white persons. They were all clad in academic gowns. Before I would get the question out, he volunteered an explanation.
“That took place today ( Monday, October 13, 2014).” But the Americans are supposed to be looking for him, (well, so says Obasanjo) how come an American based university, Cambridge Graduate University, Cambridge Masseussets, USA to be precise is giving him an honourary doctorate degree. Pointing to a framed certificate on the wall, he cheerfully informed, “That’s the certificate.”
This reporter got up from her seat and took a step towards the wall and there it was: an honourary doctor degree from the College of Law, Policy and Social studies from the university. True as it looked, it still didn’t add up. “But Obasanjo is making an issue of your being a drug baron and that President Goodluck Jonathan should have you extradited to America” , I reminded him.
“No one is looking for me in America. But just for argument’s sake, even if America wants me, how does that become the problem of President Jonathan. Where is the international warrant of arrest that should have necessitated a local warrant of arrest? If this was the case, it is a matter for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation and not Mr. President.
Why drag the President into a purely legal process. And by the way, no one in America is asking for my extradition. That matter was settled during Obasanjo’s first tenure and this is the truth he has refused to tell the world; and he speaks of morality and integrity.
He should tell that to the marines. The fact of the case is that during his first tenure, as president, he and former Beninoise President ( I’ve dual citizenship – Benin and Nigeria) Mattew Kerekou directed security agencies to give truthful evidence that exonerated me.” Kashamu produced several documents to prove that indeed, he is not on a wanted list of the American government.
One of such is the Judgement delivered by Street Magistrates Court in the suit “Government of the United States of America v Buruji Kashamu”. In a judgement delivered by the Designated District Judge, Tim Workman on January 10, 2003, the lengthy judgement reads in part thus: “ For the reasons I gave earlier, I attach no weight to the alleged recognition of a voice on a tape recording. Against that evidence, I have to weigh the facts that I have found from the evidence adduced by the Defence. I am satisfied that the defendant has a brother who bears a striking resemblance to him.
I am satisfied that the defendant’s brother was one of the co-conspirators in the drugs importation which involved Catherine and Ellen Wolters. I am satisfied that the defendant informed both Interpol and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency of the activities of the group.
I am mindful of Mr. Coleman’s submission that this is a matter of the credibility of the identification of witnesses which should essentially remain a matter for a jury. I am however satisfied that the overwhelming evidence here is such that the identification evidence, already tenuous, has now been so undermined as to make it incredible and valueless. In those circumstances there is no prime facie case against the defendant and I propose to discharge him.”.
Also, in a letter written to kashamu when he applied for a visa to Germany, the German Consulate responded thus: “ referring to your application dated 06.06.2008 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 a search warrant for you initiated by the U.S. Government was still valid.
Based on your letter dated June 16, 2008 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 that you submit a new visa application and that you withdraw your outdated application dated 06.06.2008.” This response from the Germany embassy was signed by the embassy’s then First Secretary Matten. So if this is the position what is Obasanjo’s grouse? Why does he want Kashamu extradited to the US? Can one be tried by the same parties on the same issues? What really is the crux between Obasanjo and Kashamu? Why this storm in a tea cup?
Kashamu’s response came
swiftly. “He’s opposed to President Jonathan’s second term bid. The reason I’ve become his target of this wicked campaign of calumny and blackmail is his perceived loss of political relevance in Ogun State and the South West.
He wanted to use the former national secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former national auditor, Bode Mustapha and the ex- national vice chairman, Segun Oni, to thwart Mr. President’s re-election. But almighty Allah used me to stand up to him and the rest is history.
It was the same way he used me to prosecute his battle against ex-governor Gbenga Daniel. When it was time to field candidates for 2011 general elections, he brought his stooge, Gen. Adetunji Olurin, and asked that I roll the party structure behind his anointed candidate.
In his usual haughty manner, he told me he was able to work with me because of his principles, honour and integrity- honour and integrity my foot. I remember telling him then that we couldn’t win with Olurin because he’s old. In fact, during most of our meetings, Olurin’s eyes were closed and I told him so. But he refused to listen and we lost the election.
“Contrary to his claims, I’m just one of the leaders of the party in the SouthWest. I’m just one of the party’s foot soldiers in the zone and it’s in that capacity I’ve been made the Chairman of the Organisation and Mobilisation Committee for SouthWest PDP. The party in the zone has not been handled over to anyone but its relevant organs and structures.
It’s totally out of place for anyone to call me the leader of the party in a zone which parades strong political persons like Governor -elect Ayo Fayose, Chief Bode George, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, Senators Lekan Balogun, Iyiola Omisore, Teslim Folarin, Clement Awoyelu, Bode Olajumoke and so many more.”.
Given the present scenario, can one therefore conclude that the die is case between the two. Not so fast, that would be a bit presumptous because in politics, there are no permanent enemies or friends, only permanent interests. What happens if his erstwhile ‘father’ extends an olive branch tomorrow. Kashamu didn’t have a ready answer to that.
So back to where we started , how the Cambridge University recognised him for such an award. He said he was equally at a loss because he has never visited America. According to him, “ is it with this my type of grammar that I would understand what an American or British is saying. I think they probably have an organisation based in Africa monitoring the contributions of individuals to the development of the continent and with all modesty, I’ve done considerable charity work in Benin Republic. I think that’s where this award must have come from.”