Kashamu is the man against whom former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, warned President Goodluck Jonathan in his famous letter in December 2013, calling him “a certified unashamed criminal.”
Obasanjo wrote: “Putting a certified unashamed criminal wanted abroad to face justice and who has greatly contributed to corruption within the judiciary on a high profile of politics as you and your aides have done with the man you enthrone as PDP Zonal leader in the South-West is the height of disservice to this country politically and height of insult to the people of South-West in general and members of PDP in that zone in particular.”
Last Friday, Buruji was present when Fayose went to the National Headquarters of the People's Democratic Party in Abuja to collect his certificate for winning the party's governorship primaries.
Women hired for the occasion were brought in three buses bought by Kashamu for the campaign and they arrived to sing the praises of the drug baron.
Kashamu was said to have provided the funds with which Fayose bribed the leadership of the party at the state and national levels in order to emerge as the winner.
It was the same Kashamu who also priced the logistics that dislodged a majority of the 13 aspirants from gaining access to the venue of the primaries.
As a form of loyalty, Fayose paid tribute to Kashamu and assured him that he would remain loyal to him if he wins the election.
A close confidant of Kashamu said, "Our chairman has vowed that he is ready tis spend N1bn to oust the Governor of the state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and install Fayose. He means it. He has bought vehicles, and also gave some money to Fayose."
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, referred to Kashamu as the leader and mobilizer of the party in the zone.
"Our mobilizer in South-West, a great mobilizer, we welcome you," Metuh said.
Analysts say, however, that Kashamu’s emergence and pride of place in the PDP is a measure of how much the politics of ruthlessness persists in the party and how much it is prepared to win at all cost.
Below is the full text of the comments made about Kashamu by Obasanjo in his letter to Jonathan:
Putting a certified unashamed criminal wanted abroad to face justice and who has greatly contributed to corruption within the judiciary on a high profile of politics as you and your aides have done with the man you enthrone as PDP Zonal leader in the South-West is the height of disservice to this country politically and height of insult to the people of South-West in general and members of PDP in that zone in particular.”
For me, my politics goes with principles and morality and I will not be a party to highly profiling criminals in politics, not to say one would be my zonal leader. It destroys what PDP stands for from its inception. By the government not acting positively and promptly in the case of Kashamu wanted in the US for drug trafficking and money laundering crimes, it is only confirming the persistent reports of complicity or involvement of high-level political figures in drug trafficking and condonation of the crime for political benefit. Whichever way, it is a very dangerous development for Nigeria.
Sooner than later, drug barons will be in control of large real estates, banks and other seemingly legitimate businesses; in elections, they will buy candidates, parties and eventually buy power or be in power themselves. It may be instructive if I quote fairly extensively from Lansana Gberie’s recent paper titled, ‘State Officials and Their Involvement in Drug Trafficking in West Africa’:
“...The controversial and puzzling case of Buruji Kashamu, a powerful figure in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), suggests that a successful and wealthy politician’s association with drug trafficking is hardly disabling.
Kashamu was indicted by a grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois in 1998 for conspiracy to import and distribute heroin to the United States. The indictment named him under his own name as well as two supposed aliases:
‘Alaji’ and ‘Kasmal’. His whereabouts were unknown at the time, however, and his co-accused were tried and convicted. Later that year, he was found living comfortably in England, and, on receipt of an extradition request from the US, the UK authorities arrested Kashamu. After a very protracted proceeding lasting until 2003, however, an English Judge refused to extradite Kashamu on grounds of uncertainty about his true identity.
Kashamu triumphantly returned to Nigeria and soon after became a key political figure. He is now believed to be very close to President Goodluck Jonathan, because of his ability to mobilise votes in key States in Western Nigeria. The US government reviewed Kashamu’s case, with the famous Judge Richard Posner presiding.
Posner concluded that while Kashamu’s identity remains murky, there is little doubt that the figure now exercising authority in Nigeria’s PDP is the same as Kashamu the ‘Alaji’ who was indicted for conspiracy to smuggle illicit drugs into the United States. Despite this, the Nigerian government has persistently ignored calls by civil society groups to investigate Kashamu and extradite him to the US.
On 2 July 2013, the Federal Court in Lagos determined that Kashamu should be extradited to the US. Kashamu immediately appealed against this decision, yet in November 2013, a new Panel of Judges constituted by the President of the Court of Appeal unanimously held that his appeal lacked merit, and that Kashamu should be extradited. His extradition to the United States will certainly set an important precedent... unless, of course, he uses his political skills and contacts to continue avoiding it...”