The Economic Community for West African States, ECOWAS, Court, yesterday, ordered the Federal Government to immediately release the erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, from detention.
Dasuki, who was NSA to former President Goodluck Jonathan, had been in detention since November 3, 2015, when he was arrested by security operatives over his alleged complicity in a $2.1billion arms procurement deal.
Though the ex-NSA eventually secured bail from three separate courts he was dragged to by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, he was on December 29, re-arrested by operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, after he was released from Kuje Prison, Abuja, having perfected all the bail conditions.
Dissatisfied with the treatment meted out on him by the government, Dasuki, through his team of lawyers, filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit before the ECOWAS Court in Abuja. Delivering judgment on the matter yesterday, the court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel of Justices, declared the arrest and continued detention of the plaintiff since last year illegal, unlawful and arbitrary.
The regional court found the government guilty of violating the plaintiff’s fundamental human rights, saying the action of the federal government was in contravention of both national and international laws on the right of persons and citizens to freedom of liberty. Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke who read the lead verdict, awarded N15 million against the Federal Government as compensatory damages to Dasuki for the deprivation of his right under Article 5 and 6 of African Charter on People’s and Persons’ Rights to Freedom of Liberty. The court maintained that action of the Nigerian government in subjecting the plaintiff/applicant to indefinite detention without trial was “condemnable,” since he was yet to be convicted before any court of law.
Reacting to the verdict, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, said the judgement could be reviewed.
He said: “Yes, the judgement is binding on the Federal Government, although ECOWAS does not have the machinery for enforcement of the judgement.
‘’The federal government can also apply that such a judgement be reviewed since it has fact which is not available to the court.”