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Nigerian Senator-Elect to Fight US Extradition, Drug Charges

  • Associated Press

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct, 12, 2014 file photo, Buruji Kashamu attends a primary election event for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, Nigeria.

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct, 12, 2014 file photo, Buruji Kashamu attends a primary election event for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, Nigeria.

A wanted man newly elected to Nigeria's Senate will appear in court Monday to fight his extradition to the United States on 20-year-old charges related to the TV hit Orange is the New Black.

Senator-elect Buruji Kashamu, 56, has declared his innocence. Chicago prosecutors charge he was the kingpin of a heroin trafficking ring there in the 1990s. Kashamu has said the prosecutors really want the dead brother whom he closely resembles.

Kashamu's spokesman said he will appear Monday at the Federal High Court.

After years of inaction, the United States has requested his extradition, according to Nigeria's drug agency. The U.S. Embassy did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.

Senators like Kashamu are to be sworn into the new legislature on Friday.

Drug agents surrounded Kashamu's home before dawn on Saturday. The drug agency says he is under house arrest. Kashamu's spokesman says it's an illegal siege and that they have no arrest warrant.

"About six fully armed, hooded and menacing-looking operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency are right inside his bedroom with his wife, children and other members of his immediate family!'' Kashamu's spokesman, Austin Oniyokor, told the AP in an email Sunday night.

Kashamu is the victim of a political conspiracy, he said.

The moves follow the downfall of President Goodluck Jonathan's party, in which Kashamu was a major financier and powerful politician. Jonathan lost March elections but Kashamu was elected in balloting opponents said was rigged.

A Chicago grand jury in 1998 indicted Kashamu for conspiracy to import and distribute heroin in the U.S.

A previous request to extradite him from Britain failed in 2003. Kashamu spent five years in a British jail before he was freed over uncertainty about his identity. He was carrying $230,000 when he was arrested there.

A dozen people long ago pleaded guilty in the case, including American Piper Kerman, whose memoir was adapted for the Netflix hit Orange is the New Black. Kerman's book never identified Kashamu by name, only citing a West African drug kingpin.

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