Buruji Kashamu Petitions the United States Supreme Court

To Uphold Law Against International Kidnappings By U.S. Agents

February 8, 2017 (Chicago, IL) -- In response to the ruling of a federal court of appeals, which made factual findings and addressed the merits of a case despite having no factual record before it, lawyers for Buruji Kashamu, a duly elected federal Senator and businessman from Nigeria, today filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to review and reverse the ruling.

Attorneys Robert Cohen and Matthew Piers filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Seventh District Court of Appeals to obtain a court order that would end and prevent attempts by agents of the United States government to unlawfully kidnap him in Nigeria and forcibly bring him to the United States to face charges that were brought against him in 1998. Since the original charges were filed, two courts in Great Britain have determined that the evidence presented by the U.S. was insufficient to warrant his extradition and that the charges were the product of a case of mistaken identity.

“Our courts may not make findings of fact without evidence, and our law enforcement officials should never be allowed to violate the law – either here in the U.S. or in other nations,” said Matthew Piers, one of Senator Kashamu’s attorneys and a shareholder of the law firm Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. “These principles have never been more important than now, when the rule of law is under attack from both inside and out of our government. We hope this action will halt any further attempts by U.S. authorities to abduct the Senator, allow respect for the rulings of the British courts, and let Sen. Kashamu get on with his life and his important work in the Nigerian government,” Piers added.

The unprecedented ruling of the court of appeals was only the latest chapter in a bizarre tale that started nearly 18 years ago at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

Senator Kashamu’s troubles began in 1998 when the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Illinois added his to name to an indictment that is still pending today. The indictment was initially created in 1994 and was issued to 14 other defendants accused of importing and distributing narcotics in the U.S. – the most notable defendant being Piper Kerman, whose memoir inspired the hit television series “Orange is the New Black.” From the onset, Senator Kashamu has asserted the accusations against him are a case of mistaken identity, an assertion that has been supported by two British Courts, INTERPOL, and multiple Nigerian Court rulings.

Senator Kashamu filed a lawsuit in the United States in April 2015 alleging that U.S. officials, attempting to circumvent the rulings of the British courts, have been engaged in efforts to kidnap him and bring him to the United States for criminal prosecution. As he alleges, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit concluded, the United States has already tried to seize him once in 2015, and it failed only when the Nigerian courts prevented the abduction. 

United States law, specifically the Mansfield Act, expressly forbids the U.S. government from seizing foreign nationals overseas in connection with narcotics investigations. Yet the trial court in Mr. Kashamu’s case stripped this law of any practical effect and allowed the government to conduct illegal foreign abductions without recourse when it held that the target of the illegal seizure could not sue to enforce the Mansfield Act.

Kashamu’s attorneys assert that both the process and outcome of this case are alarming. The Court of Appeals has in effect concluded, without ever allowing the presentation of a shred of evidence, that the United States government did, in fact, attempt to seize Kashamu, a foreign national in a foreign country, but did so in coordination with local government officials. The Court of Appeals thus concluded that Sen. Kashamu has no recourse in the U.S. courts to prevent further such efforts so long as they are coordinated with local government officials, and even when, as here, those officials are, in turn, violating the laws of their country.

“Despite repeated confirmation of Sen. Kashamu’s innocence from both the Nigerian and British courts, and despite repeated attempts by Senator Kashamu to take legal action in the U.S, the U.S. courts not only refuse to dismiss the indictment against Senator Kashamu, but they are sanctioning illegal kidnappings and threatening the rule of law,” said Matthew Piers. “This is particularly troubling in the current political environment in the United States, when it seems that our courts will have to play a critical role in defending the rule of law.”

Robert Cohen is a partner of the law firm Frankel and Cohen, Matthew Piers is a partner in the law firm of Gesler, Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick and Dymn.

Link to the writ of certiorari: http://hsplegal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Kashamu-Petition.pdf