7th December, 2014
*Ruling Party’s senatorial candidate wanted badly by US to face drug charges
*The candidate already faces extradition proceedings in a Federal court in Abuja
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP Mobilisation Committee for southwest Nigeria, Prince Buruji Kashamu has been declared winner of the Ogun East Senatorial ticket for the PDP.
Kashamu, who defeated the only aspirant that contested with him with a wide margin will now fly the flag of the party during the general elections in 2015.
The primary election which was conducted amid tight security was held at the BATO Event Centre,along Erunwon road, Ijebu Ode.
It saw delegates and party faithful from the nine local government that constitute the Senatorial district casting their lot for Buruji.
At the end of the voting, the Ijebu Igbo born businessman, who is facing drug charges in United States polled 365 votes out of a total of 370.
The other aspirant, Mrs Nike Oriola polled only four votes and one vote was voided.
The former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel withdrew from the contest as a result of the internal crisis rocking the party.
The drug trafficking case involving Buruji Kashamu, first blew open in March 1994, court documents obtained by TheNEWS magazine, our sister publication, show.
News about The 20-year old case came to the fore recently when Kashamu was appointed leader of the PDP in the southwest.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a PDP heavyweight, rejected the appointment and threatened to leave the party, saying that Kashamu was a wanted man in the United States.
The case started in March 1994 when a suspected drug trafficker, Kary Hayes, landed at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois on a flight from Zurich, Switzerland.
The suspect carried a suitcase containing approximately 14 pounds of heroin, according to Charles Ronald Norgle, the judge who presided over the Northern District Court of Illinois, Eastern Division in Chicago.
When security officials saw his luggage, they smelt a rat and upon further frisking, they arrested him.
With the hope of a lighter sentence, perhaps, Hayes began to sing like a bird by giving names of those involved in the illicit drug trade..
Apart from agreeing to cooperate, he revealed that he was a member of a syndicate that smuggle heroin into the United States.
The suspect, as the judge wrote, revealed the identity of several co-conspirators, “who named others, ultimately bringing down the entire conspiracy”.
The US government eventually brought charges against 14 suspects, including Kashamu, who lived in Benin Republic at that time.
The suspects were Nicholas Jr Fillmore, two-count charge; Mark Benzer, three-count; Brian Christman, four-count; Edward Steinbeigle, five-count; Catherine Cleary Walters, six-count; Bary James Blow, seven-count; Michael Barnard Pudvah, eight-count; Ellen Furman Wolters, nine-count; Peter John Stebbins, 10-count; Chris Malomo, 11-count; Meredith Morford, 12-count; Shane Donaldson, 13-count; Piper Kerman, 14-count; Buruji Kashamu, 15-count.
While 11 among them pleaded guilty, the only one who went on trial was Stebbins.
His conviction came after seven of his co-defendants testified against him, wrote the judge.
“With respect to certain identification issues, one or more of the female co-defendants testified that they had engaged in personal sexual relations with Kashamu,” wrote Justice Norgle, adding that the court sentenced them to prison terms of varying lengths.
Many of them have been released from custody after serving their sentences, while two, as the judge revealed, remain at large in the case. One of them, as the judge put it, is Kashamu. For this reason, the United States wants him extradited to come and face charges, a development that became raw material for Obasanjo’s volley