The controversial letter Chief Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan has continued to generate ripples with a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Buruji Kashamu alleging that the former president took on the president for selfish reasons.
Obasanjo had in an 18-page letter dated December 2, 2013 accused President Jonathan of taking actions detrimental to the unity and progress of the country.
The ex-president in the damning letter accused Jonathan of
training a killer squad, encouraging corruption and pursuing an inordinate ambition. The letter also contained allegations of connivance by the Presidency with persons Obasanjo adjudged as discredited and criminal, including Kashamu, his loyalist until recently.
In an interview granted in Lagos on Friday, Kashamu dwelt on his relationship with Chief Obasanjo and why they fell apart. He revealed how the former president used him as a foot soldier to gain control of the PDP structure in his home state, Ogun before the 2011 general elections from the sitting governor, Gbenga Daniel who had fallen out with Obasanjo.
According to Kashamu, shortly after taking over the reins, Obasanjo instructed his loyalists not to support Jonathan because the president was not favorably disposed to him.
“When took the PDP structure from Daniel, Obasanjo called us one day and said we should not work for Jonathan for 2015. We asked why and he said Jonathan doesn’t listen to him; Jonathan doesn’t take instructions from him and Jonathan tells him lies. And we asked what kind of lies? Obasanjo said when Gbenga Daniel locked up the Ogun State House of Assembly during the crisis involving the lawmakers, Jonathan was in China and called him to say the action was unacceptable, that within 24 hours the Assembly would be re-opened. Obasanjo said despite the promise, the Assembly remained locked for two months. That in his own state it was an insult to his integrity. He was boiling with anger that day. He vowed that Jonathan would not spend more than one term in office. That he would fight President Jonathan to the end.”
Kashamu also spoke about the allegations that he was a fugitive, wanted in America for drug trafficking and sundry issues. The full interview is presented below:
What is your reaction to the letter by Chief Obasanjo to President Jonathan?
The letter that was sent to President Goodluck Jonathan accusing him of many atrocities and also calling me an unashamed criminal. How can Obasanjo be calling me an unashamed criminal? What do I have to be ashamed of when I know that I am not a criminal? When I know that I did not commit any offence. I have been engaged in genuine business since I was 17, 18 years old. My hands are clean. This story has been on since 2007 when I married Rosemary Osula. She was the one who started it. Then from Osula to Gbenga Daniel, then to Segun Oni, Oyinlola, Bode George and so on. If it is true that America is looking for me, if it is true that America has case against me, since that 2007 when Osula and I were fighting on the pages of newspaper, they could have come if they were sure I was the one they were looking for. 2007 till date, that’s almost six years. The same story continues.
First, for Obasanjo, an ex-president who had ruled the country three times to have written the letter, complaining that Jonathan allowed me to move close to him was an acceptance of defeat. It shows that Obasanjo is afraid of me.
What is giving Obasanjo the power is the soul of the South-west. We have six geo-political zones in the country. For someone to have the control of an entire zone, which former president Babangida does not even have, which no other ex-head of state controls. Only Obasanjo is controlling a zone. This is what Obasanjo is using as a foundation to negotiate with the Presidency. He gets benefits as an ex-president, then he also corners slots meant for the Southwest. That is why you see many people go to his house to bow to him. Those who want to be ministers, ambassadors and other appointments always go to his house. He had the PDP structure of the Southwest in his hands. Obasanjo used me to take control of Ogun State. He had Lagos, Oyo with Akala, Osun with Oyinlola, Ondo with the late Agagu and so on. All of them under his umbrella were having southwest meeting with him. He introduced me to the late Agagu, Segun Oni, Caleb Olubolade and so on.
When President Jonathan came to power, he respected Obasanjo and appointed ministers nominated by Obasanjo. They gave him two ministers in Ogun State, but he was not pleased. It was after that that he went to Geneva to speak ill of the Jonathan government.
Jonathan was not fighting Obasanjo. He was just concerned with how to fulfil his mandate, but because Obasanjo saw that he could not control Jonathan, that is genesis of their problem.
Obasanjo is making it look like Jonathan is not performing, but we Nigerians are not foolish. We know what Obasanjo has done to damage this country. Have you ever seen any ex-president in the whole world that can write this kind of letter to bring his country into disrepute? But Obasanjo is not ashamed. He thought he did that to rubbish Jonathan, but he is doing it to damage himself.
Obasanjo is playing God to have said Jonathan should not have more than one term. Jonathan never told Obasanjo he wanted the presidency. He was just a lucky, easygoing man. They wanted him to betray Alamieyeseigha, but he refused. He is loyal and competent. Obasanjo is merely taking advantage of Jonathan’s gentlemanliness.
How dare Obasanjo say Jonathan should spend one term? Is Obasanjo God to dictate someone else’s progress?
Recall that after Obasanjo left prison, it was Chief Orji Uzor Kalu and others who funded his campaign to be president when he said he didn’t have money to contest.
And he told those who were working for him to get power that if they assisted him, he would only spend one term in office. After first term, Obasanjo begged Atiku Abubakar, to allow him do second term. As soon as he got what he wanted, he turned against the vice president. There is nothing he did not do to destroy Atiku. But God did not allow him. After second term, he started the third term agenda, bribing lawmakers before they stopped him. Which credibility does he have to say Jonathan must not run for second term?
Check Obasanjo’s history. He doesn’t want anyone to be richer or better than himself. If you are rich, you must go look for talakawa clothes and appear as if you are poor, that is when Obasanjo would not hurt you. If you go to Obasanjo looking rich and well to do, you are finished. He would ruin you.
He said I am an unashamed criminal. When I was working with him, when I spent N3 billion to fight Gbenga Daniel and took PDP structure and handed over to him, he did not see me as unashamed criminal.
Yet, this was the same man that former EFCC boss Mallam Nuhu Ribadu described corruption under his watch as worse than that of late General Sani Abacha, according to United States cable obtained by Wikileaks.
The report stated that a meeting which the former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Robin Sanders, had with Mallam Ribadu to discuss his removal from the EFCC, Ribadu told the US ambassador that Obasanjo was good at covering his tracks while admitting that corruption was worse under Obasanjo.
Ribadu was quoted as saying that former President Obasanjo knew how to play the game. ‘Although he created the EFCC and understood its importance for him with the international community, Ribadu explained, that by far and even more than the Abacha days, corruption under Obasanjo’s eight years was far worse.’
In Ogun where I spent N3 billion fighting Gbenga Daniel. Daniel dragged Obasanjo on the floor. I came in, joined Iyabo Obasanjo. We were fighting Daniel. I would go to Obasanjo’s house and office to take instructions. When we took the PDP structure from Daniel, when were in the court in Abuja, Daniel used same delegates list, one for PDP and the other for PPN. He planned that if he failed in one, he would use the same list in the other party, which is illegal. Then I alerted INEC that they should not allow the same delegates list. We went to court in Abuja. Daniel then carried placard with his supporters that the case must return to Ogun State. Because of that, the chief judge transferred the case to Ogun State. After the transfer, we believed that if we kill the PPN, the fight would be between PDP and ACN. Because of that we fought tooth and nail with Obasanjo suggesting we use illegal means to have our way. But after we fell apart, all the PDP cases that they lost in the Southwest, we would file case and his boys believed Obasanjo had power, he could influence the judiciary. They would not fight. They think Obasanjo is above the law. Before they woke up, we had removed Segun Oni. That was when they started fighting.
How can Obasanjo say I’m an unashamed criminal? You know what that means? He is saying I am stronger than him. That I have scattered his structure and that America should come and help him to remove me.
Since they have been calling America, they have their embassy here, but that country would not do anything illegal. The American law even says if you request for the extradition of a person, you must get that person to stand trial within two and a half years. If you fail, then the indictment is null and void. If I decide to go to America today, there is no case against me. I won the case in 2003 in London and came back to my country, the US government did not appeal. Between 2003 and now is about 11 years.
Which extradition is Obasanjo even talking about? If he is not an old man bullying for nothing, how would he not consult a lawyer and do proper checking to get his facts right before issuing his letter.
Have you ever seen other ex-heads of state, Gowon, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, descending so low to behave the way Obasanjo is doing? What makes Obasanjo think that Nigeria belongs to only him?
I was the one who rescued Obasanjo when Gbenga Daniel wanted to rubbish him. I was always in his house. Iyabo, his daughter was moving with me. She would come to my hotel. We would be feeding Baba Obasanjo with details of our activities. When we took over the PDP structure from Daniel, Obasanjo called us one day and said we should not work for Jonathan for 2015. We asked why and he said Jonathan doesn’t listen to him; Jonathan doesn’t take instructions from him and Jonathan tells him lies. And we asked what kind of lies? Obasanjo said when Gbenga Daniel locked up the Ogun State House of Assembly during the crisis involving the lawmakers, Jonathan was in China and called him to say the action was unacceptable, that within 24 hours the Assembly would be re-opened. Obasanjo said despite the promise, the Assembly remained locked for two months. That in his own state it was an insult to his integrity. He was boiling with anger that day. He vowed that Jonathan would not spend more than one term in office. That he would fight President Jonathan to the end.
After we took over the PDP structure from Daniel, Obasanjo brought Adetunji Olurin to come and be governor in Ogun State. I told him that people would not vote for Olurin who is in his 70s. Baba said he doesn’t want to hear that. That we should go and work for Olurin. At the end of the day Olurin lost. Then the appointments started coming. Then Obasanjo started fencing me off from the structure. He nominated those who did not suffer, who did not belong to the party for the appointments. Eventually, it was during that time that Baba Obasanjo said we should not work for Jonathan. So, I went and called all the party elders in the state and we all decided to stay on our own and not go to Baba again. That’s how Baba created his illegal PDP exco. That was when we began fighting his illegal exco in Southwest. When Obasanjo began to fight the President, everybody started fighting. That was how Oyinlola was out. Segun Oni was out.
If I had this relationship with Obasanjo, how can he be saying this rubbish about me? Tell me, does Obasanjo have family? Anybody who cannot settle his own family, how can he settle Nigeria? You forgot that during his regime, his own son exposed him.
Obasanjo told us Jonathan is the best. He said he was clean and not corrupt. That we should go and vote for Jonathan. How can he turn around and malign the same Jonathan. Does Obasanjo want to be president again? He has had his time. He is in his eighties, he should leave the stage.
At what point did you disagree with Obasanjo? Was it at the point that you took the structure from him or when he alone wanted to nominate all beneficiaries of government appointments?
When we fought and won, we brought the PDP structure to Obasanjo’s house, managed by me and Iyabo. After we lost the governorship election, using Olurin, Obasanjo saw that 90 percent of the followers love me. They always pay homage to Ijebu Igbo, my hometown. They would come in 500, 1000 buses. Obasanjo then called and told me I should not be doing that. I said that was what I had been doing with the Omo Ilu Foundation, that that was the structure I used to fight Gbenga Daniel. I said Baba if I don’t do this, now that ACN had taken over, the PDP would die. I didn’t know that Baba had interest in Governor Ibikunle Amosun who comes from Owu. Because of that I decided to go. He then tried to build another structure in an illegal way. That’s why we are fighting.
Since the publication of the letter, has anybody from President Jonathan’s side got in touch with you?
Why would they get in touch with me? If Obasanjo writes anything against me, is it the Presidency that would help me reply him? I have to defend myself. I’m at liberty. Obasanjo cannot stop me from discussing with the Presidency or anybody else. I’m a human being and a clean businessman. Those who had served before had been so blackmailed by Obasanjo. If I had any skeleton in my cupboard I would have been silent. But why should I be silent when I knew that I didn’t commit any offence. My hands and heart are clean. I didn’t have any extradition case anywhere. I was the one that took the attorney general to court in 2009. When I was fighting Gbenga Daniel and I heard that he and the attorney general were friends, planning to do something, I decided to take the attorney general to court to interpret the judgement that I won in London. I won in the Federal High Court. In the Appeal Court I learnt it was Obasanjo who influenced the court to rule against me. Why? If you go through these documents you would see what transpired.
The case they are twisting is not about extradition. America did not bring extradition against me. And the extradition matter, I am not the person they are looking for. You know that the British court is one of the best in the whole world. The British court had declared that it was a case of mistaken identity, if they want America to bring extradition case against me, is it about the case I had won in London? I won the two cases in London proving that I was not the one the Americans were looking for. During the trial they took my picture and showed the criminals involved in the offence in America and the criminals said it wasn’t me who connived with them. If you go through the judgment you would see it. Then I was released. During their investigation in America, they got the criminals to have telephone conversation with the accused they were looking for for almost an hour. Then the Americans came back and said they had had the recorded voice of the fugitive. I then went back to the court in London and requested that they do analysis of the recorded conversation to determine whether I was the fugitive whose voice was recorded. I talked with the Americans over the phone for about 50 minutes. When they analyzed the conversation with that of the real person they were looking for, they found that it wasn’t my voice. That was how I won the second case. So, what extradition is Obasanjo talking about now? I had won the cases since 2003. On what basis would they bring any extradition when I am not the person they are looking for. The Interpol in Cotonou went to the British court when the case was on and gave evidence that it was not me the Americans were looking for. That it was my brother that was involved. The NDLEA people were also in the court. They swore to affidavit. I was in prison, when the case was on. I didn’t know anything about the NDLEA. It was my lawyer who fought with the NDLEA and took them to court here. And the Benin Republic government got in touch with the government here, the same Obasanjo government. Obasanjo called the NDLEA to go and clear whatever they had in their record in London. That was how NDLEA got involved. NDLEA said they had done their investigation. You know Remi Adiukwu. A decent and respectable woman, the wife of Baba Oluwalogbon. My brother rented and was selling cars in one of her houses in Ikeja. When the Americans were looking for the person involved in the drug offence, they got in touch with the NDLEA. The NDLEA moved in and my brother ran away. Then they sealed up the premises where he was selling cars. For good three years that the premises was locked up, they didn’t pay rent to Remi Adiukwu. They took away all the cars. They also went to my brother’s house. All these were exposed. You need to go through the transcript of the report of the NDLEA investigation, which they submitted to the London court. What is my business in this matter that they are using to tarnish my image. I have hotel that can accommodate 120 people. I have another hotel that can accommodate 45 people. I have an oil company. I have a property company. The properties I have between this area and Ajah is over N25 billion. What is my business with this rubbish that Obasanjo is talking about. I used to be the richest Nigerian in Republic of Benin. There I had the biggest cotton farm in that country. I was producing cotton for export to China, Brazil and other countries. I was having turnover of $100 million every year. By the time they said the drug offence was committed, I was already a billionaire, doing legitimate business in Republic of Benin. I had motor dealership company, representing several manufacturers, including Daewoo. I owned oil company in Benin Republic. Several Nigerian businessmen, including Wale Tinubu and Sayyu Dantata. I assisted them when they started newly and were coming to do business in Cotonou. I was doing black oil business. I was carrying black oil from Nigeria and supplying to Onigbolo cement factory in Benin Republic. Sayyu was transport manager bringing tyres and spare parts for all Dangote vehicles. I was the one who introduced Sayyu into black oil business. He would get the tankers and we would supply to Cotonou. Sayyu is an honest and respectable person. That is why he has got to the level he attained today. I was with Wale (Tinubu), Jette, Mofe Moyo. The three of them would stay in my house. My house was one of the best in Benin Republic. I was one of the richest persons in Benin Republic. That was when they brought this rubbish accusation of somebody’s involvement in drug. What’s my business with drug? Then I had more than 10 whites working for me.
You have all this evidence, yet that image that you are a fugitive won’t go away. What is the problem?
I have gone to London to fight. I obtained judgements that I am not a fugitive. You can only request for the extradition of a fugitive. That is one. Number two. If you are a good businessman. You’re generous. You are a public figure assisting the people. If you venture into politics, there is something called ibon oselu,meaning politics gun. When they fire it at you, gboa! Even if you are a saint, you will get smeared. Once they know you are powerful they begin to concoct rubbish to tarnish your image and run you down. If you look at it very well, Obasanjo in this letter he wrote exonerated me. He cleaned me that I am not a drug dealer. He said I’m an unashamed criminal. How can a criminal be fighting all the big people in government and defeating them? It means that I’m not what they are calling me. I’m therefore not bothered and undeterred. I know there is no reason for me to be ashamed because I’m not a criminal. So, what Obasanjo is saying indirectly is ‘you are too strong for us. We have called you all the names in this world, you still won’t give up.’ Why should I succumb, when I haven’t done anything wrong. All this is about politics. I am not a fugitive. I move the way I want and relate with the people I want. Tomorrow I can go to the Presidency. Nobody can stop me. I’m a human being and a Nigerian. I have the right to enter any government office and do business. Let them shout themselves louder than they are doing. Nobody can silence me. It is only God, Allah, that is more powerful than all of us. If God does not silence me, and by His grace, He will not, nobody, not even Obasanjo can silence me.
In view of this drug accusation and after you got the judgements in your favour, have you applied to visit the US?
I have never visited America in my life. Never. I have never applied to go to America. I don’t have anything to do in America, except my brother who had been to America. Now they brought the drug case. I sued the British government and defeated them and was awarded compensation of about 2 million. Then I sued the US government for damages, demanding 5 million. Instead of them to drop the case in their country after the mistake they made, they didn’t drop the case because they know I’ll come and sue them. When we talk about international warrant. After I won the case in London, the international warrant was cancelled. I went to Germany. Initially the Germans were hesitant, but after they got the details of the case I won in London, the international warrant was dropped and I was granted German visa. They first gave me two years, then four years. The one I have now is five years. I have a case in the US now, that since the issue of the identity of the fugitive being sought is settled, and I won the case in London, the indictment must be cancelled. While I’m still fighting them, even if I go to their embassy now, requesting for a visa, they will never give me visa. How will they give me visa? We have been fighting. I exposed them in London. I am the only African who has ever won a case of extradition against America. My name is in the British Law book. I won the cases through Articles 5 and 6 Human Rights Law.
Why should I go to America now when I’m still fighting them for wrongfully accusing me of an offence I didn’t commit. If they’ll give me visa, why won’t I go to the US. We’ll go and fight it out. I swear, I’ll defeat them.
With these allegations against you by Obasanjo, are you planning any action against him?
Let me tell you. I have been in court with Obasanjo. I took Obasanjo and Gbenga Daniel to court recently. This one will be a libel case. It’ll be battle to finish. I will drag Olusegun Obasanjo without cap on his head into the witness box. For libeling me, he would pay.
Each time your name, Buruji Kashamu is mentioned, there is something confounding about it. Is it the name you have been using since you were born?
I have never in my life changed my name. Why would I change my name. I’m from Ijebu North in Ogun State. My brothers are here. Call my brothers who are around to come in. I attended Ansar-Ud-Deen School in Ijebu Igbo. From the beginning my name was and has always been Buruji Kashamu. I’ve never answered any other name.
How about Esho Jinadu?
Esho Jinadu, when I’m not crazy. Is Esho Jinadu a proper name? It’s a nickname that they call everybody. One of my brothers here is also called Esho Jinadu. Another of my brothers, Wasiu is also called Esho Jinadu. In the Lagos social circle, if you are a decent person, who likes to wear jewelry, you’re hailed and given the alias of Esho Jinadu.
(To prove his point Kashamu invited one of his relations in who identified himself as Alaba son of the late Rasheed Kashamu. Alaba also reeled out the names of other members of the extended Kashamu family. The PDP chieftain also called a woman on phone who identified herself as Alhaja Adenike Shote, née Kashamu. She said to be a younger sister of Prince Kashamu)
If you go to Ijebu Igbo, my family is very big. We are 13 children from my father. How can it be possible for me to change my name and change the names of other family members?