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Kashamu to fight US extradition, drug charges

25 May 2015, 19:02

Lagos - A man newly elected to the Senate refused to attend a Monday court hearing on his extradition to the United States on 20-year-old drug charges related to the TV hit "Orange is the New Black."

Lawyers for Senator-elect Buruji Kashamu, 56, instead asked the court to order Nigerian drug agents to lift their siege of his home, saying the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency is acting illegally because its agents lack an arrest warrant.

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Asked whether the agency has one, spokesman Ofoyeju Mitchell said by email "Yes. NDLEA ID Card is a warrant."

"The extradition move by the NDLEA for Kashamu to answer drug trafficking charges is legal," he said in a statement. "The Agency has not violated his rights and will continue to work within the confines of the law."

Drug agents surrounded Kashamu's home on Saturday, days before senators are to be sworn into the new legislature on Friday. The drug agency says he is under house arrest.

Kashamu's spokesman, Austin Oniyokor, said Kashamu is the victim of a political conspiracy.

After years of inaction, the United States has requested his extradition, according to Nigeria's drug agency. Asked for comment, a U.S. State Department official told The Associated Press that the department does not comment on law enforcement matters.

The moves come as Kashamu is seen to have lost the perceived protection of outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost March elections.

A Chicago grand jury in 1998 indicted Kashamu for conspiracy to import and distribute heroin in the U.S. Prosecutors charge he was the kingpin of a heroin trafficking ring there in the 1990s.

Kashamu has said the prosecutors really wanted his dead brother, whom he closely resembled.

A previous request to extradite him from Britain failed in 2003. Kashamu spent five years in a British jail before he was freed over uncertainty about his identity. He was carrying $230,000 when he was arrested there.

A dozen people long ago pleaded guilty in the case, including Piper Kerman whose memoir was adapted for the Netflix hit "Orange is the New Black."

- AP


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