The Nigerian Government on Friday appealed the judgment delivered by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on May 27, upholding the fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by Buruji Kashamu.
The government also appealed another order issued on June 8 by Justice Ibrahim Buba, also of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The order restrained the Federal Government and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency from taking further steps to extradite Mr. Kashamu to the U.S., pending the hearing and determination of Mr. Kashamu’s contempt application against the Attorney-General of the Federation and the NDLEA boss.
When the matter came up on Friday before Justice Buba, Emeka Ngige, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, told the court that he had been briefed by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to handle the matter.
Mr. Ngige also told the court of an appeal against the ruling of the court made on June 8.
He further drew the court’s attention to an application to stay further proceedings on the matter, pending the determination of the case at the Court of Appeal.
But in his response, Counsel to Mr. Kashamu, Ajibola Oluyede, said the application by Mr. Ngige amounted to an ambush on the contempt proceedings.
Mr. Oluyede said apart from the fact that he had not been served with the motion for a Stay of Proceedings, it was also important for the court to determine whether it could hear a party that had refused to obey a court order in respect of such application.
In his brief ruling, Justice Buba said that in view of the prevailing circumstances, he would adjourn the matter to enable all the processes to be properly placed before him.
He, however, assured that justice would be done expeditiously.
The matter was then adjourned till June 22, for hearing.
In the appeal against the June 8 ruling, the AGF contended that Justice Buba erred when he restrained the security agencies from taking steps to extradite Mr. Kashamu, a Senator representing Ogun east in the Nigerian Senate, which is the subject of another suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The AGF said Mr. Buba ought to have dismissed the matter, as the judge could not exercise supervisory role over another Federal High Court, which was a court of coordinate jurisdiction.
“The court cannot fetter the hands of security or prosecuting agencies in the lawful discharge of their functions,” the AGF argued.
In the appeal against Justice Abang’s judgment, the AGF submitted that from a careful scrutiny of the case, it was clear that the lower court aided Mr. Kashamu to abuse the processes of the court.
The AGF recalled that Mr. Kashamu, in an affidavit in support of the suit, stated that he won a similar case in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/938/2010 at the trial court.
The AGF, however, said that the judgment was reversed at the Court of Appeal and was now pending in the Supreme Court.
“The remedy available to Kashamu, where his rights are allegedly threatened by the respondents, is to invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to restrain the infringement but not to file a fresh action on the same subject matter,” the AGF said.
The AGF, in the appeal, also insisted that the English Courts, as being made to appear, did not exonerate Mr. Kashamu, but only ruled on extradition and habeas corpus proceedings, which were used to produce him before the British Courts.
A writ of habeas corpus is used to bring a prisoner or other detainees before the court, to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention was lawful.