The Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Monday declared the arrest and continued detention of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), unlawful, arbitrary and a violation of his right to liberty.
The regional court held that the detention of Dasuki violated both national and international laws on the right of persons and citizens to freedom of liberty. The court also held that the further arrest of Dasuki by government on November 4, after he was granted bail by a court of law, amounts to a mockery of democracy and the rule of law.
Dasuki had been charged with diversion of $2.1 billion meant for possession of military equipment. He was also accused of possessing illegal firearms.
Dasuki had approached the ECOWAS court March this year, after he was rearrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) after he met his bail conditions in November. He asked the Court to enforce his fundamental right as enshrined in the African Charter on the People and Human Right.
The three-member panel led by Justice Friday Nwoke said Nigeria’s government was wrong in rearresting Dasuki without a search warrant, adding that the pattern of arrest negates the provisions of Section 28 of the Nigerian Police Act.
“Having perused the case before us, we have come to the conclusion that the re-arrest and detention of the applicant after he had been granted bail by three courts since last year make mockery of the rule of law. Executive arm should not interfere with the judiciary.
Even if the applicant has committed crimes of whatever nature, the principle of innocence must be respected and the fact that he has been charged to court does not disentitled him to freedom of liberty… Court must rise to their responsibilities and prevent executive lawlessness.
It is the applicant today; it could be anybody tomorrow. There is no legal basis for the re-arrest of the applicant other than to circumvent the bails granted by courts. We have no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the purported search warrant claimed to have been obtained by the Nigerian government was an afterthought aimed at perverting the cost of justice because the so-called search warrant was not certified and to worsen the case the defendant claimed that it could not serve the same search warrant on the applicant
For the avoidance of doubt, anybody who commit crimes must be put on trial before an appropriate court but in doing so, the state must respect local and international laws in the prosecution of such persons,” Nwoke said, while delivering the ruling.
The court ruled that Federal Government should pay a sum of N15 million as damages to Dasuki, adding that the cost of litigation will be summed up and charged against the Nigerian government.