AGF: We Are Studying ECOWAS Court Judgment on Dasuki
The Office of the Attorney of the Federation on Wednesday said it was yet to take a decision on the judgment on the ECOWAS community court which ordered the immediate release of the detained former National Security Adviser, Col. Ibrahim Dasuki retired.
Mr. Othman Isah, the Special Adviser to the Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, said that the justice ministry was still studying the judgment and would take a decision as soon as the judgment had been digested.
Informed Judiciary sources said the judgment of the court can not be appealed but an aggrieved party may ask the court to review its decision.
The court had held that the detention of Dasuki violated both national and international laws on the right of persons and citizens to freedom of liberty.
Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke, who delivered the judgement imposed a fine of N15m against Nigeria as compensatory damages.
In the judgment that lasted over one hour, the court dismissed the allegations of unlawful possession of firearms and economic crimes used by the federal government to justify the detention of Dasuki adding that the Nigerian government missed the track because the applicant applied before the court for the enforcement of his fundamental rights.
Justice Nwoke said that even if the applicant had committed a crime, the law still has it that due process of the law must be observed in his trial adding that it was an established fact that the applicant was put on trial in three different Nigerian High Courts and was granted bails by the courts.
The court said that the action of the Nigerian government in subjecting the Ex-NSA into indefinite detention without trial was condemnable because criminality had not been established against him.
The court descended heavily on the federal government on its claim that it detained Dasuki without trial because he (Dasuki) was planning to stage a coup and wage war against millions of Nigerians adding that the defendant (Nigeria) was so confused and not consistent in its defence to the suit against it.
Justice Chijioke further said that the Nigerian government took laws into its hands and made mockery of the rule of law by arresting the applicant without warrant of arrest or warrant of detention when he had legally been granted bail by the appropriate courts.
According to the court, detention order must be made in writing and must be delivered to the detainees adding that in the instant case, none of such was obtained and delivered to Dasuki by the Federal Government before arresting and executing and forcefully taken away his properties in his houses in Abuja and Sokoto.
The court also dismissed the claim of the Federal Government that Dasuki was arrested and detained in his own interest, adding that the claim was an assault to the Nigerian Constitution and other international laws because there was no iota of evidence placed before the court that applicant applied for security protection.
Beside, the ECOWAS Court said that the claim of Nigerian Government that Dasuki was detained in his own interest was against the claim made by the same government that the applicant was arrested and detained because he constituted a security threat to the Nigerian nation and having also committed some economic crimes.
The court held that the claim that Dasuki was detained in his own interest was unreasonable and that Nigeria being under a democratic government where the rule of law was expected to be protected ought to act within the ambit of the law since every nation was subject to the rule of law.
“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 December last year made 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 disentitle 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 course 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 commits 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.”
The court therefore declared that the arrest, detention and the continued detention of Dasuki since December 2015 without warrant of arrest was unlawful, arbitrary and done in contravention of both local and international laws especially Article 5 and 6 of the African Charter on People’s and Persons’ Rights to freedom of Liberty.
The court also ordered that the invasion of Dasuki’s house in Abuja and Sokoto and forceful removal of his personal properties violated all the relevant laws, especially the Constitution of Nigeria under Section 37 and 44 and ordered that the properties seized must be immediately returned to him.
The court further ordered payment of N15m as compensation to him for his unlawful arrest, detention and forceful seizure of his properties without lawful court order.