FG Hires Top International Criminal Court Prosecutor Against Indicted Supreme Court Chiefs- Report

Some of the indicted officials of the Supreme Court fingered to have collected money through fraudulent means are in serious trouble as the Federal Government hires a top international criminal prosecutor. The Federal Government has hired a former International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Charles Adeogun-Philips, to lead its team of lawyers to prosecute the Supreme Court Registrar and others for alleged N2.2b fraud.
 The arraignment of the three senior officials of the apex court was stalled by Justice Abba Mohammed of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Jabi, Abuja because one of the Supreme Court officials, Muhammed Sharif, was absent.
The Federal Government on November 3 filed a nine-count charge against Chief Registrar Ahmed Saleh, Sharif and Rilwanu Lawal (who are both officials of the court’s Account Department).
The officials were charged with conspiracy and criminal breach of trust for allegedly diverting N2.2billion belonging to the apex court and receiving gratification as public officers. The three officials are also accused of receiving N74.4m gratification from Willysdave Ltd., Welcon Nig. Ltd., Dean Musa Nig. Ltd., Ababia Ventures Ltd. and MBR Computers Ltd. between 2009 and 2016.
On November 8, Justice Mohammed granted a request by prosecution lawyer Hajara Yusuf for time to produce the three defendants in court for arraignment, following which the court adjourned till November 17 for arraignment.
Saleh and Lawal were in court. Sharif was absent. Garba Tetengi (SAN), who announced appearance for Sharif, said he was ill and was on admission at the hospital. He sought an adjournment, which other defence lawyers – Abdulhakeem Mustapha – SAN – (for Saleh) and I.K Sanusi – SAN (for Lawal) did not object.
The Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation (DPPF), Mohammed Umar, who led the prosecution team, later yielded proceedings to Adeogun-Philips, who spoke for the prosecution.
Umar said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had in exercising his powers under Section 174(1) of the Constitution, elected to engage an international lawyer to conduct prosecution in the case.
Adeogun-Philips said he was unhappy that Tetengi could not provide any document to show that Sharif was on admission in the hospital. Justice Mohammed rescheduled the arraignment for December 15.

Indicted Drug Dealer Now A Senator?

A man indicted in America for allegedly smuggling heroin has been elected a senator in Nigeria. Buruji Kashamu was little known before he returned home in 2003 from Britain despite a U.S. extradition order to become a major financier of President Goodluck Jonathan’s party.

Election results posted late Wednesday identify Kashamu as a senator-elect in southwest Ogun state. Opponents are challenging his victory in court, saying ballots were rigged.

Kashamu, 56, hung up the phone twice when the AP called for comment about the drug case on Thursday. Kashamu has said he is “a clean businessman” and that the 1998 indictment by a grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois for conspiracy to import and distribute heroin in the United States is a case of mistaken identity. He has said Chicago prosecutors really want the dead brother he closely resembles.

A British court refused a U.S. extradition request in 2003 over uncertainty about Kashamu’s identity. Chicago Judge Richard Posner thought otherwise when he refused a motion to dismiss Kashamu’s case last year.

A dozen people were long ago tried and jailed in the case, including American Piper Kerman, whose memoir about her jail time became the Netflix hit “Orange Is The New Black.” Kerman’s book never identified Kashamu by name, but there is a West African drug kingpin whom she calls “Alhaji,” meaning one who has completed the haj or pilgrimage to Mecca.

A Nigerian federal court last year ordered Kashamu’s extradition, an order upheld by an appeals court. But Nigeria’s government has not extradited him.

That failure caused Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president, to warn that “drug barons … will buy candidates, parties and eventually buy power or be in power themselves.”

Jonathan’s perceived protection of Kashamu was a factor that led Obasanjo to defect from the ruling party before recent elections to the opposition that won most votes in Ogun, the home state of Kashamu and Obasanjo.

Kashamu is suing Obasanjo for libel for stating that Kashamu is a fugitive from U.S. justice. He had won a court order halting publication of Obasanjo’s autobiography but a judge this week rescinded it, saying Kashamu had misled the court. Obasanjo’s lawyer argued that the truth cannot be libel.

President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator who had people jailed for littering in the 1980s, has promised to fight corruption. That has many politicians fearful in a country where corruption is endemic.

Credit: saharareporters