Ogun 2011 – The Brickbats Continue

The battle for the control of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State has made Ogun State to be on top of the news for some times now. The political scheming involving a group loyal to the state governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and another group led by a leader of the party, Senator Jubril Martins Kuye. Both groups which have drawn a battle line ahead of the 2011 general election are also locked in a battle for the control of the soul of the party in the state.

The governor’s group had accused the Martins-Kuye group of activities aiming at undermining Daniel’s government through its alleged anti-government activities. However, the other group alleged the governor of high handedness and attempt to monopolise both the control of government and the party machinery in the state

Although, the lingering intra party crisis has caught the attention of the national leadership of the party that set up reconciliation team to settle the dispute but the problem in Ogun chapter of the party is yet to subside.

However, the battle for the control of PDP in the state has thrown up a new group known as “Egbe Omo Ilu” led by Prince Buruji Kashamu, also known as “Eso Jinadu” a wealthy businessman, who is now the latest political figure in the State.

Since its advent, the group has been scheming to penetrate, with the aim to influence the politics of the state towards the 2011 general election

Sources said that although, Kashamu has been around in the state for some time, but not to the consciousness of the political class. To gain strong political footing, the group has launched an empowerment programme for leaders and members of PDP, in the state, distributing motorbikes, cars and other materials. The group’s activities have strong effect at the grassroots level of the Ogun State polity.

With the philanthropic activities of his group, Kashamu is believed to be making an in road into the politics of the state as he now has large followers of party faithful around him singing his praises. He is also believed to have courted and won to his side, some notable politicians in his bid to have control of the state.

However, the activities of Kashamu’s group have continued to attract controversy in the state. The group has not been spared of brickbats flying among political gladiators. His opponents have accused him of using “ill-gotten wealth “to lure unsuspecting people to his side in a bid to achieve his political ambition in the state.

The latest controversy was a document circulated round the state where it was alleged that Kashamu has been declared wanted allegedly by a United States Court. It was one development that had since raised suspicions and much as questions.

According to the document, copies of which were made available to THISDAY. In March 1994 at O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, USA, One Kary Hayes had just arrived town from Zurich in Switzerland bearing a suitcase that contained approximately fourteen pounds of heroin.

This was discovered by the authorities and Hayes was subsequently arrested. When it became clear that he was stuck, Hayes agreed to cooperate with the authorities and therefore revealed that he was just a member of a group of smugglers whose stock in trade was heroin brought into the United States. In the course of investigations, Hayes disclosed the identities of co-conspirators who in turn, volunteered others in the gang and ultimately narrowed down to a business man in Republic of Benin. Kashamu, at the time resided in the Republic of Benin.

The document also alleged that after the prosecution, eleven of the defendants pleaded guilty and the only one to go to trial, Peter Stebbins, was convicted after seven of his co-defendants testified against him. The court also sentenced other defendants to prison terms of varying degrees. The Federal Bureau of Prison records have also indicated that many of the defendants have equally been released from custody, having served their sentences. But in these, two defendants remain at large. One of which was alleged to be Kashamu.

However, as the allegations continue to fly around, Kashamu through his counsel, R. Ajibola Oluyede from TRLPLAW office wrote in defence of his client.

According to a statement from the counsel, copies of which were made available to THISDAY, Oluyede described the allegation as “a merely an argument that is not based on facts”

He denied that any court ever declared Kashamu “wanted” or “a fugitive”.

He said ” the allegations pertaining to the alleged offenses committed in the U.S. by the Wolter sisters, Kary Hayes and others was the subject of the two cases in England in which two judgments were delivered exonerating Prince Kashamu.

“The evidence put forward by the U.S Authorities in those suits disclosed that none of the offenders that were arrested and tried in the U.S. mentioned the name “Buruji Kashamu” and/or “Esho Jinadu”. They said their accomplice was named “ALAJI”. The U.S. Government has not been able to show how they came about the name Buruji Kashamu but it is suspected that they merely the descriptions given and assumed it must be Prince Kashamu. The Courts have since determined that that assumption is wrong”.

Concerning the recent ruling of the District Court in the U.S., the counsel accused the writer of the document of deliberately amending the proceedings and concocts findings that did not exist in the judgment of the court.

“The proceeding in question were commenced by Prince Kashamu based on the two British Judgments and evidence of prosecutorial misconduct on the part of the U.S. Attorney’s office, not only to set aside the indictment but to open the door to relief for the injury he has suffered as a result of the false accusations and the prosecutorial misconduct.”

“The ruling is but a temporary hiccup in this process and was a response to a preliminary objection brought to the application on the basis of a doctrine which Kashamu’s lawyers say does not apply because Kashamu is not a fugitive. The Judge is being given an opportunity to reconsider because it became obvious after the ruling that he had misperceived that Kashamu was in the U.S. had left to escape prosecution in the U.S. Also the same court had in the recent past found that a person is not a fugitive unless he had been in the U.S. and escaped from the territory to avoid law enforcement agencies or prosecution.”

He further explained that Kashamu as accepted by the U.S. Government has never been in the U.S. in his life and has already been exonerated by a court of competent jurisdiction. There is therefore no basis for the application of this doctrine to stifle his complaints against the U.S. Government.

The counsel also accused Ogun State Government of making efforts to twist the case in order to create a false picture. “The leaders of the State have already rejected the blackmail by solidly backing the empowerment efforts of Prince Kashamu in Ogun State,” He said.

Olawale Olaleye and Jaiyeola Andrews 

This Day (Lagos)