My attention has been drawn to some mischievous media reports being the latest in a series of efforts orchestrated by my political opponents to call a dog a bad name so as to hang it.
Thus, I find the need to set the records straight and put to a stop to their devious attempts to make a mountain out of a molehill.
The undisputable fact is that a judgment of an American court cannot supersede the judgments of the British and Nigerian courts. It should be noted that it is the British that colonized Nigeria and we adopted their legal system.
Therefore, if the British courts gave two judgments which have not been appealed till date (14years after) and the same have been affirmed by several Nigerian courts, how then can anyone say that the recent US court ruling, which arose from a suit I filed against my abduction, is superior or has overriding effect over the previous and subsisting judgments of the British and Nigerian courts?
On a business trip to the United Kingdom in 1998 in pursuit of my cotton trading business in Liverpool, I was arrested at City Airport in London and detained pursuant to an arrest warrant issued on the basis of an indictment in the United States (U.S.) in which the name “Alaji” had been introduced as a party to an alleged offence of importation of narcotics into the United States by the U.S authorities.
I have never visited or resided in the U.S and certainly have never been involved in any business not to talk of a criminal activity whatsoever in the US.
Although, I declared from the moment of arrest that I was not the person involved in the alleged narcotics business and that it was a case of mistaken identity, the British courts made an order for my committal pending my extradition to the U.S.
Fortunately, my lawyers came across some exculpatory evidence, which the US government had concealed from the courts in the extradition proceedings. The evidence was the outcome of a photo identification parade for the purpose of Identifying the said “Alaji”, that was held in the US Attorney’s office.
They had taken a mug shot of me and placed it with seven other photographs of black males who had facial hair that was similar to mine and were about my age too. After viewing the photo lineup, Fillmore, one of the accused, said that the 3rd photograph in the lineup looked like a bad photograph of the man they were looking for.
He also declared that the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th photographs did not at all look like the said ÄLaji”; my mug shot was the 7th in the lineup; that was one of the photographs that Fillmore said did not at all look like the wanted kingpin.
So, my lawyers immediately commenced a Habeas Corpus( a recourse in law whereby a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment before a court) application in the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench division, for my release and the vacation of the committal order made by the Court.
The English High Court in its judgment delivered on the 6th or October 2000, agreed that the order for my committal was null and void having been the product of unfair proceedings in which the U.S. Government had suppressed exculpatory evidence.
In summarizing the facts, Lord Justice Pill found as follows:
“What has now emerged, with a letter from the United States’ Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, is a report of an investigation into the case against the applicant conducted on 9 February 1999.
The report stated insofar as material, that on 8 February 1999, Fillmore viewed a photo lineup for the purpose of identifying Kashamu.
The meeting was held in the US Attorney’s office. An officer of the Attorney had received a copy of an arrest photograph of Kashamu from another officer.
The report continues that the officer ‘…took the copy of the arrest photograph and placed in a DEA form 470, photo identification folder, with seven photographs of black males.
These black males had similar facial hair and were the approximate age of Kashamu.
This photo lineup was shown to Fillmore. Fillmore provided the following statements: ‘it is not jumping out at me, I know what the man looks like.’ Fillmore further stated that photograph #03 looked like a bad photograph of him.
Photos #02, #04, #06, #07 and #08 did not look like him at all. Fillmore stated that #05 looked a lot like him but did not look like him. Fillmore ruled out photograph #01.
Fillmore stated that #05 looked the closest like Alaji.’
That is the name by which Fillmore knew his co-conspirator. ‘The arrest photograph of Kashamu was placed in position #07 of the photo lineup.