ECOWAS Court rules in favour of Dasuki over illegal detention by government
Seeking to enforce his fundamental rights, former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki yesterday got the approval of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court in his suit against the Federal Government over his alleged unlawful arrest and detention without trial since December last year.
The court ruled that it has jurisdiction to entertain the suit brought before it by Dasuki for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to liberty and to own properties as enshrined in the provisions of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution and African Charter on Fundamental Rights of Persons.
In the ruling delivered by Justice Friday Chijoke Nwoke, the ECOWAS Court also dismissed the objection of the government to Dusuki’s suit on the ground that the objection was misplaced, misconceived, frivolous and lacked merit.
Justice Nwoke reading a unanimous ruling given by the three-member panel of the court, held that government’s claim that Dasuki’s case emanated from his trial on certain offences was inappropriate and as such, using it as the basis for its objection to the applicant’s case in the matter could not stand since the reliefs sought by Dasuki had nothing to do with the ongoing trial at the domestic courts of Nigeria.
The justices said that in their own opinion, the claim by the government that Dasuki ought to have filed a contempt charge against the Nigerian government for disobeying court orders that admitted him to bail could not be sustained since the case of the applicant was not ambiguous since it had no root in any criminal trial in any court.
Justice Nwoke said that at any rate, the case of the Nigerian government could not stand in the face of the law because there was no evidence that Dasuki had filed a similar pending matter in any international court.
He added that even if he had a similar matter in any Nigerian court up to the Supreme Court, such domestic courts could not have the status of international court as envisaged in the treaty in which Nigeria is a signatory.
He said: “In our opinion, what Dasuki brought before us as a case is an issue for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to liberty, to own property as well as against unlawful arrest, unlawful detention and unlawful seizure of properties without any court order or warrant of arrest.
“From the totality of the issues brought before this court, it is clear and there is no ambiguity that the applicant is seeking the enforcement of his right to freedom and not on the issue of his trial for any alleged offence before any Nigerian court.”
Justice Nwoke further ruled that the objection of the government and the request that the case of the applicant in this matter be struck out on the ground of emanating from some criminal matter had no basis.
“The claims and the request lacked merit and are hereby dismissed and we declare that the application of Dasuki is admissible to this court”, the judge added.
The ECOWAS Court further held that it was not out to decide the issue of whether the applicant is guilty of the charges against him in the Nigerian courts or not but simply to ascertain whether his fundamental rights to liberty, having been granted bail in criminal matters and rearrested since last year and kept in an unknown place, constitute an abuse of his rights to freedom.
Dasuki, through his lawyers, Mr. Robert Emukpoeruo and Wale Balogun, had taken the Federal Government before the ECOWAS court over the invasion of his house in Abuja, Kaduna and Sokoto last year without any court order or warrant of arrest, and the fact that the seizure of his properties comprising vehicles, money and documents constituted the abuse of his rights to liberty as enshrined in Sections 36 and 34 of the 1999 Constitution and other international laws where Nigeria is signatory.
Dasuki also told the court that the invasion of his house by operatives of government without lawful court order has traumatised his 94-year-old father , Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, who received shock and up till now has not recovered from the illness that followed.
Dasuki therefore, asked ECOWAS court to award him N500 million compensation having been denied access to medical attention abroad as ordered by a Nigerian Court in November last year.
The government through its lawyer, Mr. Tijani Gazali, had objected to Dasuki’s case on the ground that the ECOWAS Court had no jurisdiction to wade into the trial of any Nigerian in a Nigerian court and asked the court to strike out the case as it constituted an abuse to Nigerian courts.
A definite hearing in the matter has been fixed for May 17 and 18, 2016.