The fugitive senator-elect, Buruji Kashamu, has vowed never to travel to the US where he is wanted for drug-related offences.
Mr. Kashamu, elected to represent Ogun East Senatorial District, restated his claim that he was innocent of the drug charges and had been cleared of same by a British court.
“I am not under any obligation to go to the US to answer the same charges after the true judgement of the British court has exonerated me of the same allegations,” he told Sahara TV in an interview. “Asking me to take the next available flight to the US so as to clear my name is like asking me to jump in a fire – may the Almighty rescue me from it.”
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, politician accused American authorities of bias in his trial.
“If the US prosecutor could hide important evidence that later exonerated me in the UK court, only God knows what they will do in their country.
“I have done a lot of things to clear my name. I spent four years in detention at the hands of the US authorities to prove my innocence before I was eventually exonerated. This was also in the presence of the US prosecutors and other agencies in various countries, like the Republic of Benin, Nigeria. It was after a rigorous trial with pictorial and documentary evidence that I was discharged.”
Mr. Kashamu, a close ally of outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, indicated his willingness to face extradition trial in a Nigerian court.
“I have cleared my name and myself in London. If anybody believes that they have any other case against me, they should come through due process. I am ready to challenge it. I am ready to face it without any problem,” he said.
The controversial politician also claimed he had never been to the US and could not have dealt in drugs in the country.
“I have never in my life put my foot into the United States. I have never demanded for their sticker,” he said. “I have been a businessman right from 18 years old. Up till today, I continue doing my business. My last submission is that I know nothing about what they are saying over there.”
Since Mr. Kashamu’s PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan lost the general elections in March and April, he has faced renewed pressure on the drug charges and has made repeated efforts to plead his innocence as well as court leaders of the incoming ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. In April, he courted Bola Tinubu, a leader of the APC, describing him as his role model.
“Truth be told, men like you are made up of sterner stuff and are rare to come by in every generation. Little wonder you are called the Asiwaju and Jagaban of Borgu. I doff my hat,” Mr. Kashamu wrote in an open letter addressed to Mr. Tinubu.
Mr. Tinubu, however, promptly denied the Ogun politician.
“Kashamu may be prodigal but he is no political son of Tinubu,” Mr. Tinubu said in a statement signed by Sunday Dare, his media adviser.
It is expected that the US will demand Mr. Kashamu’s extradition after the swearing-in of the APC led government on May 29; a request, which if made, would face a length legal process in Nigeria.
“I am a Nigerian. I am not running away from my fatherland. If anyone thinks he has a case against me, he should follow due process and we will take it up from there,” Mr. Kashamu said.