SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 9 – Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has remarked that the late Senator Buruji Kashamu used the maneuver of law and politics to escape from facing justice on an alleged criminal offence but could not escape death when it came.
The former president’s comments came last night after Senator Kashamu’s death from coronavirus was announced. The former senator died at First Cardiology Consultants hospital, where a number of powerful Nigerian politicians have died this year, including Abiola Ajimobi and Abba Kyari.
In a condolence letter he wrote to the governor of Ogun State, Obasanjo said, “Senator Buruji Kashamu in his lifetime used the maneuver of law and politics to escape from facing justice on alleged criminal offence in Nigeria and outside Nigeria.”
“But no legal, political, cultural, social, or even medical maneuver could stop the cold hand of death when the Creator of all of us decides that the time is up.
“May Allah forgive his sin and accept his soul into Aljanah, and may God grant his family and friends fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
Today’s Echo gathers that Obasanjo was referring a lingering drug smuggling case against the late senator, who was indicted by the FBI. According to the Guardian, he was the basis for the TV hit Orange Is The New Black.
A British court refused a US extradition request in 2003 over uncertainty about Kashamu’s identity. However, Chicago Judge Richard Posner thought otherwise and refused a motion to dismiss Kashamu’s case.
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 in 2014, ordered Kashamu’s extradition, an order upheld by an appeals court. But Nigeria’s government did not extradite him.