Businessman cum politician Buruji Kashamu was described in former President Obasanjo’s letter as a ‘shameless criminal’ President Jonathan is associating with. Kashamu, who has virtually taken over the PDP structure in the South-west, spearheading the court-ordered removal of the Obasanjo associates in leadership positions in the party, has taken issues with the former president. He also denies being a criminal. He speaks in an interview with journalists. Anayo Okolie was there..
Former President Obasanjo in his letter called you a ‘shameless criminal’. How do you react to that?
Following former President Obasanjo’s diatribe against the person and office of President Goodluck Jonathan, including my humble self, I have been inundated with calls from family members, friends, business and political associates as to his real intentions. I will situate his vituperations presently.
In the 18-page letter dated 3rd December 2013, Obasanjo called me a shameless criminal. Pray, why should I be ashamed when I am not a criminal or the one being looked for, and he knows! They have called me all manner of names to silence and sabotage me so as to take over the party structure in the South-west in order to work against the government. If Obasanjo could write this kind of letter against his own people, with a view to inciting Nigerians against the man he introduced to them, then it leaves much to be desired. This was the same man who said Jonathan was the only one fit for the job having been cleared by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He told Nigerians to vote him as president because of his unimpeachable character and integrity. It is unfair for him to round to insult the President. He used me to fight Gbenga Daniel and I spent over N3billion to fight his cause and took the PDP structure from Daniel and handed it over to him. He later brought his friend, a 77-year-old Gen. Adetunji Olurin (rtd), to be the governorship candidate. Now, he is casting aspersion on the person of the President and my humble self. Who should be ashamed among us? How many former presidents and heads of state would do this? He thinks he is disgracing his people but unknown to him, he is making himself a laughing stock in the eyes of the discerning. Pray, what is he looking for? Initially, he was given everything he wanted but he was still not pleased. Now that things have changed, he is grumbling.
For me, the old general only sought to exhibit his military training on the element of surprise. According to an ancient Chinese General, Chiang Shang, “The technique for military conquest is to carefully investigate the enemy’s intentions and quickly take advantage of them, launching a sudden attack where unexpected.” But he performed woefully in this task because he failed to observe the condition precedent to using the element of surprise, which is “to investigate”. He allowed his hate campaign to becloud his sense of reasoning and judgment as an elder statesman that he ordinarily should be. He merely ventilated his frustrations over the new political reality that has stripped him bare of any claim to Ogun State and the South-west geo-political zone. Ordinarily, a person of his standing should tower far and above such parochialism. But he won’t have any of such. He would rather eat the fat of the land and still struggle for the crumbs while at one playing the ostrich. If the truth be told, the letter to President Goodluck Jonathan is, to say the least, satanic, self-serving and mischievous.
Obasanjo had earlier denied introducing you to the presidency. What is your reaction?
Chief Obasanjo denied introducing me to the Presidency. But can he deny that we wined and dined together in the past? Can he deny knowledge of my closeness to his daughter, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, especially during the events leading to the 2011 general elections? Can he deny that he introduced me to some leaders of the PDP in the South West, such as the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade; his Agric counterpart, Dr. Adesina Akinwunmi; and Engr. Segun Oni, among others, as his political son in whom he is well pleased? Can he deny that he did introduce me to the former acting Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, and other officials of the PDP-led Federal Government during the events leading to the 2011 general elections, especially as it relates to Ogun State and my role in the whole scenario? Can he deny that he openly praised me to high heavens at various public foras and rallies, including during the reception I organised for the former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye (JMK)? Why is it that it is now that he is calling me names and blaming the Presidency for condoning me? What offence have I committed? Is it because I refused to allow him to hijack the party structure so that he can use it to achieve his invidious motive against President Jonathan? Is it because he has now realised that he has lost the platform, which made him relevant in the politics of Ogun State and the South-west? Isn’t there a sense in the assumption that the reason for this unwarranted attack is to portray the Jonathan administration in bad light and discredit its foot soldiers, particularly in the South-west?
But you had a relationship with former President Obasanjo?
Let me state from the outset that anyone who knows former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s antecedents would not be surprised at his calling me names. Ask Otunba Oyewole Fasawe. Ask Chief S.B. Oluwalogbon. Ask Chief Bode George. Ask Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The list is endless. Be that as it may, I am not ashamed to say ex-President Obasanjo was my adopted political father and I was also his adopted political godson. I was one of his foot soldiers and partners. We planned and executed many things together. When it was convenient for him, I was his right hand. I teamed up with him against former Governor Gbenga Daniel; fought the latter to a standstill; took the party structure from him and handed it over to Chief Obasanjo. I worked with him (Chief Obasanjo) to produce the platform that his anointed candidate for the 2011 general elections in 2011, Gen. Tunji Olurin. It is common knowledge in Ogun State and the South-west that Obasanjo and I were inseparable until recently. These are facts that are in the public domain and cannot be denied. So, if he now turns round to be calling me names, then it should be clear to all that it is all politics. The truth is that I have not committed any offence and nobody has ever requested for my extradition. If there is anything to the contrary, I challenge Obasanjo and his cronies to produce it or forever remain silent.
Even when they have refused to see or hear; I yet refer them to the Interpol report, which exonerated me of any wrongdoing, 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.” The NDLEA in a counter-affidavit in one of the cases I filed in the courts to clear my name said, from their records, I have never been involved in any crime.
Again, in an 11-paragraph filed by the Office of AGF and dated 16th September, 2010, in the suit I filed against it at the Federal High Court, it stated that, “No request for the extradition of the Applicant was made on the 20th day of July, 2010 or on any date to the Respondent or to any Federal Agency by the United States Government or any other country…The Respondent or any of its officers or any agency of the Federal Government has not received any request from any country for the extradition of the Applicant for any offence whatsoever.” These are documents that are already in the public domain. They can be accessed in various court registries.
But I recall that the same former President Obasanjo ounce alleged that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar had criminal issues in America and could no longer enter that country. The former vice-president has visited America many times and even have an institution, a university, where he is partnering with America. If you have been cleared over this alleged criminal records as you said, have you visited that country to convince all doubting Thomases?
You know I challenged them and the so-called extradition order in court as I indicated earlier with documents, and I won. Ounce you do that, they would not even give you a visa and I have never bothered to apply for one.