Saturday, August 31, 2013

I’m ready to spend N1bn for PDP to win Ekiti election –Kashamu

Prince Buruji Kashamu is the financier of the Peoples Democratic Party
in Ogun State. In this interview withSEGUN OLATUNJI,he speaks on the
many controversies surrounding his personality and the crisis rocking
the PDP in the South West
Is it true that you are an international drug dealer?
I do not know what you are talking about. I have beenin business since
I was 18 years old. I built my first building in life in 1978 - a
block of four flats in Ikotun Egbe, Lagos suburb. Today, I can count
65 houses; an industry that produces raw cotton (ginnery) in the
Republic of Benin; two estates and many houses being managed by my
real estate company; two hotels; an investment company that trades in
shares, running into billions of naira and anoil marketing firm, among
others. I have given you thisbackground information to let you know
that I do not have any reason whatsoever to be involved in drugs.
I have never in my life travelled to America or had any business in
America, or even applied for its visa since I was born. So, if there
was a case of mistaken identity, that does not make me to be a drug
dealer.But our kind of politics is such that people take delight in
blackmailing their opponents. But that will never deter me from my
commitment to liberating our people. More often than not, politicians
ride on the back of our poor people to attain positions of authority,
albeit violently. In the process, a lot of people die cheaply over a
meagre N1, 000 or N2,000 but when they get into office, theysoon
forget the poor on whose back they rode to power. Intoxicated by perks
of office and attraction ofpower, they would begin to impose their
surrogates on the generality of the people. This is the kind of
politics that I detest and have been fighting. A drugdealer does not
fight publicly. A drug dealer does notlive in the public eye. I am a
genuine businessman withverifiable sources of income who has over
2,000 workers on his pay roll.
Furthermore, I think I have sufficiently addressed this issue in the
newspapers and other media. The case that my detractors always refer
to was a case of mistaken identity in a drug-related offence which
happened over 19 years ago and for which I have been discharged and
acquitted by the British courts. The British court, as per Lord
Justice Pill and Mr. Justice Bell of the High Court of Justice, Queen
Bench Division, said the US authorities suppressed exculpatory
evidence in their desperation to indict me and discharged me in
accordance with Articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention of Human
Rights and Human Rights Act, 1998. The District Judge Tim Workman in
finally discharging me in 2003 found from the evidence adduced during
the three-year trial that I was not the person sought by the U.S.
authorities and it was a case of mistaken identity. The U.S. Judge
Norgle, in whose court I was also tried, held that I am not a fugitive
from justice.
District Judge Workman in his judgment said, "As a result of the
evidence that the Defence has placed before me and the evidence which
the government has tendered in rebuttal, I find the following facts:
that the defendant has a brother who bears a striking resemblance to
that of his brother; I am satisfied that the defendant's brother was
one of the co-conspirators in the drugs importation which involved
Catherine and Ellen Wolters…
"I am however satisfied that the overwhelming evidencehere is such
that the identification evidence, already tenuous, has now been so
undermined as to make it incredible and valueless. In those
circumstances, there is then no prima facie case against the defendant
andI propose to discharge him." So, if the first and secondBritish
courts tried and discharged me, what is the hullabaloo about? Again,
you may wish to cross-check with the National Drug Law and Enforcement
Agencyif I am one of the suspected drug dealers on its list.
In fact, the NDLEA in a counter-affidavit dated 6th of July, 2013 in
Suit No FHC/L/CS/49/10, deposedto by one of its operatives, Kareem
Olayinka, said in Paragraph 13 "That up till date, the United States
Government has not made any request for the extradition of the
Applicant (Prince Buruji Kashamu) to the 4th defendant (Chairman,
Nigeria Drug Law and Enforcement Agency) to arrest, harass,detain,
intimidate or prosecute the applicant for any reasons." It also
attached a list of wanted suspecteddrug suspects.
What's the source of your wealth?
(Laughs) Well, I don't know what you mean by the source of my wealth.
But if you meant where I get the money to pay my bills, I will say
that I am a comfortable businessman and an entrepreneur. Since I
ventured into business as a teenager in secondary school, I have never
looked back. I am a shareholder in a number of companies here in
Nigeria and across the West Coast. By the grace of God, I have an oil
marketing firm. I own hotels and a property company with assets
running into billions of Naira, among others. Now, the thing is not
that I am the richest man in Ogun State or even in my community but
thedifference is that I give more freely than most of the rich men
around; whatever I have, I share with people around me. And the more I
do this, the more the almighty Allah blesses me. That is what makes it
look as if I am outrageously rich!
But the United States' Federal Bureau is looking for you...
(Cuts in) I put the question back to you: what is myoffence? And what
is my business with FBI? Where is the warrant of arrest? Indeed if any
international security agency is looking for anyone, it will go
through the Interpol. I have had cause to publish theInterpol report
which exonerated me of any wrong doing, both locally and
internationally. It is dated 4th March, 2008. The Interpol in the
six-page report, signed by ACP Haruna H. Mshelia for the Commissioner
of Police (Interpol), particularly at Clause XI says "That contrary to
the allegation, the suspect was not found to have engaged in
fraudulent/clandestine activities as all records were checked both
locally and internationally and all our probes were returned negative.
The suspect was never declared wanted or convicted either in Nigeria
or anywhere in the world."
It went on to say in Clause XVI of the report "That all our letters
written to Interpol London, Lyon, Washington and Cotonou relating to
enquiries on criminal/drug/conviction records of the suspect were
returned negative to the effect that the suspect was never convicted
of such offence in their territory." I am giving you a copy of the
report. You are at liberty to publish it for the whole world to see.
Why are you constantly linked with drugs?
It is simply because of politics. You would have noticedthat this
issue usually crops up when it is time for politicking. Since they
have tried every other trick without success, they resorted to
blackmailing me with this drug allegation with a view to getting me
out of the way, so they can ride roughshod over our people. The
reports of the Interpol and other statutory bodies and institutions
have sufficiently answered this question.
But many people still believe you're a drug baron
Who are the many people? Perhaps, my detractors. But the truth is
they are not as many as the masses in Ogun State who believe that I am
being maligned because of my insistence on empowering the people and
returning power to them. There is no day that at least 50 people do
not come to me or call me for one assistance or the other. You have
been covering our events for some time now; don't you see the
thousands of people that troop to my house in Ijebu-Igbo anytime I
visit? So who are the many people? Perhaps the elite who want to
continue to suppress and oppress our people, hence they must paint me
in the picture they have in mind and make it look as if it is the
popular view. Those who were drug barons who later got into politics,
embezzled money and perpetrated unimaginable violence, which led to
the death of many people know themselves.
Funding a major political party is capital intensive. Where do you get
funds for financing the PDP?
I told you earlier that I have flourishing businesses with over 2,000
employees. Now, like I previously saidit is not that I am the richest
man in my communityor state but the difference is that I am a more
generous giver. And I did say that the more I give, themore the
almighty Allah blesses me. As I meet people's needs, wiping away their
tears, the almighty Allah replenishes my pocket in million folds. So,
deductively, I will say the almighty Allah is the source of my
flourishing businesses and funds. I now love the game of politics and
I'm passionate about thePDP.
What caused the misunderstanding among you, Chief Bode George and Gbenga Daniel?
I do not have any personal problem with either Chief Bode George or
Otunba Gbenga Daniel. Our point of divergence is on principles. I
think some of them do not like my guts. I cannot see black and call it
white. The history of how Daniel invited me into the politics of Ogun
State has been told several times than to warrant a repeat here. The
same person laterturned around and launched a campaign of calumny
(like the drugs allegation) against my person just because of my
principled stance on how to resolve the then lingering crisis of
confidence in his administration during his second term. As for Chief
Bode George, I have a lot of respect for him and he knows it. All
through the struggle for the soul of the Ogun State PDP, he was with
us. But what I think made him to join forces with my detractors was
because some of our people within the Lagos PDP and the South West are
saying it is not justifiable for certain people to continue to lay
claim to the leadership of the party in their states and the South
West without being able to win their polling booth since 1999; without
being able to give to the party.
Chief George feels that since some of those canvassingthese views are
close to me, then I must be behind it, hence he too joined the
bandwagon of "Operation Pull Down Kashamu". It is unfortunate. Well,
we are on speaking terms. There is nothing personal. I can pick up my
phone and call anyone of them at anytime or even visit them and
vice-versa. The other day, I visited Chief George in his Ikoyi and
Abuja homes. I have visited Daniel a couple of times, just as he has
What's the relationship between you and ex-PresidentOlusegun Obasanjo?
It is an indisputable fact that the only superior, leading leader that
we have in Yoruba land is Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. All others,
includingmy humble self, are his foot soldiers. There is no quarrel
between me and our Baba. He has been my father and he will continue to
be my father. Even if we disagree on principles, we will resolve our
differences like father and son that we are. He is my father and
commander-in-chief. I say once again that I am just one of his foot
Why are you in politics?
I am in politics to put smile on the faces of our people. As I have
often stated, my venture into politics was more or less accidental. I
joined politics as a peace-maker and consensus builder. I joined
politics from my ward and I know how it works and thank the almighty
Allah for where he has brought us today. But along the line, the very
people who invited me, abandoned me and turned round against me. And
anyone who knows me would tell you that I am not one who shies away
from responsibilities. So, having set my hands on the plough, I could
not look back in the battle to liberate our people from the
stranglehold of the plunderers of our common wealth,empower them,
restore their confidence and set them free from feeding on the crumbs
that fall from the master's table.
How do you expect people to believe the story that itwas your late
younger brother that was involved in drugs?
It is not a story; it was the findings of well-established
investigative agencies, such as Interpol, NDLEA and the confessional
statements bythe perpetrators themselves which resulted in my
exoneration by many court judgments. I am only quoting the excerpts of
the judgment.
Is it true that British police too are looking for you?
Again, the Interpol report in your possession refers. That has
sufficiently addressed the issue. How can the British Police be
looking for someone without a request to the Interpol?
When last did you travel out of Nigeria?
Oh! I do not know that as a private citizen when I travel or do not
matters. But if you care to know, apart from short business trips
within the West African sub-region where I have companies, I travel
anytime I want.

Which countries have you travelled to?
I visit countries of my interest like Germany, France and others. May
be when next I am travelling, I will invite you to come with me.
Why were you not present at the meeting President Jonathan held with
South West leaders in Abuja on Wednesday?
The people they call South West leaders, sixty per cent of them are
working for PDM. Two, they went there simply because they are of no
political value. They went there to lie to Mr. President and that was
why they did not include my name. They all knowthat over 80 per cent
of our followers and members in the South West love me and they
believe in my struggle to liberate our people regardless of politics.
I want to say that Obasanjo is our leader. He is my father, I have
worked with him, I've mobilised for him and I love him a lot and I'll
always respect him because he's a man of honour. Bode George betrayed
Baba Obasanjo and he believes that he can be using meto do many things
which I'm not disposed to.
The congress that we were supposed to do on Saturday 24th, after Bode
George had weighed all the delegates, they were afraid that if the
congress should hold I would mobilise more people than they could have
done and perhaps eventually, I would have defeated them. They were
afraid of that and that was why they quickly arranged and went to Mr.
President to lie to him that there was an injunctionstopping the
conduct of the South West congress that was supposed to take place
last Saturday.
They told Mr. President that because of that court order and because
the caretaker officers had already resigned, he should allow them to
appoint a caretakercommittee that would take charge of the party in
the South West in place of the one appointed by thecourt. They were
doing that hoping that Mr. President would give instructions that
night and announce the names they had submitted to him so that they
would be able to have the South-West through their own people, and
through that, come back to political reckoning again. They had
forgottenthat the members of the former caretaker committee were
appointed by the orders of the court and this court ruling forbids
them from dissolving the caretaker committee until the election of new
officersat a properly organised South West congress. The ruling dated
11/04/2013 restrains them from appointing any new caretaker committee.
If they do that, it would amount to contempt.
How would you react to claims by your opponents that you cannot lead
the party in the South West because you are a new entrant and that
even in Ogun State where you control the party machinery, the PDP has
been in permanent crisis?
The party is not in crisis. You have witnessed a lot ofmobilisation
that we have been doing. These people are afraid, they don't love our
party and they don't love Mr. President. I believe that they have
another agenda. I'm not telling Bode George to quit. I'm not telling
all the elders, including Baba Obasanjo to quit. I respect all of
them. In every party there are foot soldiers. Bode George and the
others are our respectable leaders and so we don't expect them to go
and mobilise people. We don't expect them to go to the streets and
wards to mobilise. They are supposed to be there as our leaders and
advisers and we would be under them. They must allow those who have
the money, who believe in and have passion for thePDP and who do not
care to spend their money and use their resources for the party, to
mobilise for the party to grow so that we can be strong enough to take
over from the ruling party in the South West in 2015.
They cannot say that I cannot lead the party in thezone. It is totally
wrong for them to say that. I am capable any day, any time. I have the
Some of the PDP leaders are of the opinion that you must reconcile
with former President Obasanjo if youwant to continue to relate with
President Jonathan...
(Cuts in) You know all these people have been blackmailing me, calling
me this and that. But do you know what they call"Ibon Oselu". That is
the gun of politics.
It is a situation where they continue to blackmail youwith different
stories and all sorts of things everyday. But I'm not bothered. I used
to mobilise for President Obasanjo. I was the one that took over
thestructure of the party in Ogun State and if I had wanted to use it
to become the governor, I would nottake the power and hand it over to
Baba Obasanjo. What kind of fight would I engage in with Baba
Obasanjo? Baba Obasanjo is my father any day, anytime. I don't have
any problem with Baba Obasanjoand I remain one of his foot soldiers.
I'm not looking for appointment, I'm not looking for governorship or
ministerial positions, I have a passion for the PDP and I love
President Jonathan. I can shed my last blood for President Jonathan.
Those sycophants around Baba Obasanjo who go to him are the ones
saying all the rubbish but because I believe that BabaObasanjo is my
father, there is no way he would continue to believe those people. By
next week I will be in baba Obasanjo's house. I call him regularly and
we speak anytime, any day. I also speak with his family.
But that does not mean that if there are some people around baba that
are doing something that is not good and they don't want to see reason
that their actions are wrong, if it becomes necessary, we'll engage in
a fight. We are all baba's children and anyone that has an upper hand
after the fight, is the winner. That is life.
But some leaders of the PDP are said to prefer BodeGeorge to you as
their leader in the zone?
I'm not disputing the fact that Chief Bode George isa leader of the
party in the South West. But what I'm trying to make clear is that
Bode George is not afoot soldier who can go to the wards, the streets
tomobilise. There are leaders and there are leaders and whether they
like it or not, I'm one of the leaders in the South West. But what I'm
saying is that they must give me my own role so that I will be able to
mobilise. My own objective is to ensure that the PDP takes the South
West in 2015. I don't want to fail and I don't believe in failure.
There is this opinion being expressed by the party leaders that with
you as the leader of the PDP in the South West, the party would not be
able to dislodge the ruling party in the zone in 2015?
(laughs) You can see that we are proving them wrongwith the situation
of the party in Ogun State. You are aware that thousands of the
members of even the ruling APC, the Labour Party and the PPN have been
defecting to the PDP in Ogun State.
In Ijebu-Igbo recently about 5,000 defected to the PDP. This evidence
is very clear for all to see and I'm telling you I'm one of the foot
soldiers. I'm ready to contribute resources for mobilisation but this
is whatmany politicians don't like doing. For example, I'm ready to
spend even N1bn to ensure the success of thePDP governorship candidate
in Ekiti State during the forthcoming election. It would be a shame on
my part if I fail to do that. I'm ready to do the same thing in Osun
and Oyo States. I did not just start doing all of that today. A
reference point was when Alao-Akala wanted to contest for the
governorship in Oyo, because of the passion I have for the PDP, I
spent over N200m to support him and he won. I also supported Timipre
Sylva in Bayelsa State.
I gave him over 17 jeeps, three trailer-loads of Ankara clothing
materials with his picture and that of his deputy embossed on them and
also gave him a lot of cash because President Jonathan was campaigning
for him and he asked all of us to join hands in ensuring his victory
at the poll. After Sylva won, he gave me the IGR in Bayelsa which I
managed for about two years and during which I raised the revenue from
N200m to over N1bn monthly before I left the state. Also, when
Obanikoro contested for the governorship in Lagos, To be Continued....

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