By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—–Determined to wriggle out of the extradition net that is threatening to envelope him, Senator Buruji Kashamu has withdrawn the N20billion libel suit he filed against former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Kashamu who is representing Ogun-East Senatorial District, persuaded Justice Valentine Ashi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting at Wuse Zone 2, to terminate further hearing on his case against Obasanjo.
This is even as Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has slated June 25 to commence hearing on the extradition application that was entered against him by the Federal Government.
Vanguard gathered that Kashamu, who is currently battling with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, over moves to extradite him to the US, premised his decision to withdraw the libel suit on an ongoing settlement talks between him and Obasanjo.
Consequent upon a notice of discontinuance he filed before the court Justice Ashi struck out the matter on May 26.
Kashamu had dragged Obasanjo to court for defamation and character assassination, immediately the content of his letter to President Jonathan was made public.
He told the court that the defendant (Obasanjo) “maliciously and recklessly published a letter titled, ‘Before it is too late,’ which he said contained words which he (Obasanjo) knew to be false.
In his writ of summons, Kashamu stated that the criminal imputation made against him by Obasanjo in his letter, greatly “murdered” his reputation.
It will be recalled that the plaintiff who is a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had on December 5, 2014, convinced Justice Ashi to restrain Obasanjo from publishing his auto-biography entitled ‘My Watch’.
Obasanjo had gone ahead to present the book to the public on December 9, 2014 in Lagos, a situation that led the court to order security agencies to confiscate the books anywhere they are found in the country, including on library shelves.
Specifically, Kashamu had insisted that the content of the autobiography related to issues contained in the letter Obasanjo wrote to former President Goodluck Jonathan and former National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, on December 2, 2013, where he alleged that Kashamu was a fugitive wanted in the United States of America.
He contended that since the content of the letter was the subject matter of his libel suit, it would be wrong for the ex-president to be allowed to proceed to comment on, write books about or make publications on the issue yet to be decided by the court.
He therefore prayed the court to award the cost of N20billion against the ex-President to cover for the damage he has suffered as a result of the “malicious” allegations contained in the letter.
Besides, he sought for; “A declaration that the words complained of and published by the plaintiff against the defendant in a letter titled: “Before it is too late,” addressed to Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan and dated December 2, 2013, which inter-alia carried criminal imputation against the plaintiff and published in several newspapers on December 12 is defamatory of the person of the plaintiff.
“An order awarding the sum of N20 billion only to the plaintiff against the defendants as aggravated and exemplary damages against the defendant for libel falsely and maliciously published by the defendant against the plaintiff in the said letter.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, his agents, servants or privies from publishing or further publishing or cause to be published any defamatory words against the plaintiff to any person or persons; and the sum of N100 million as cost of this action”.
Meanwhile, the extradition application marked FHC/ABJ/CS/479/2015, which was filed on May 28, was predicated on a request by the Embassy of the United States of America for the Nigerian government to surrender Kashamu to face one count of drug related charge before the United States District Court for the Northern Illinois, Eastern Division.
Kashamu.had earlier begged the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to protect him from alleged plot by former President Obasanjo to connive with security agencies and bundle him to the US to face drug related charges.