The Nigerian government is not obligated to obey a ruling of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Court that a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, be released from the custody of the State Security Service, a presidential aide has said.
The ECOWAS Court, on October 4, had declared the continued detention of Mr. Dasuki unlawful, arbitrary and a violation of his right to liberty.
The former NSA is accused of misspending billions of dollars meant for procurement of arms for fight against Boko Haram. The government also accuses him of illegal possession of firearms.
Mr. Dasuki was arrested in December 2015, and has been in detention since then.
“It is advisory opinion,” President Muhammadu Buhari’s adviser on prosecution, Okoi Obla, said of the ECOWAS’ court ruling, in a recent interview.
“The ECOWAS Court cannot enforce opinion. The government is not obligated to obey the ruling of the ECOWAS Court.”
The ECOWAS Court was created pursuant to the Article 6 and Article 15 of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS, the political-economic bloc of the West African countries.
Nigeria is a signatory to the Treaty which is “binding on the member states, the institutions of the community, individuals and corporate bodies,” as its Article 15(4) provides.
But Section 12(1) of the Nigerian Constitution says “No treaty between the Federation (Nigeria) and any other country shall have the force of law except to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted by the National Assembly”.
The National Assembly has not domesticated the Revised Treaty and the Supplementary Protocol regarding the ECOWAS Court.
Regardless, analysts expect Nigeria to obey the ruling as an exemplary demonstration of its leadership position in the West African sub-region.
Mr. Obla cited countries he said had disregarded international law.
“Look at Israel; Israel has disregarded all international rulings. The so-called bastion of democracy, America, has flouted all judgements of the ICJ against America. They even refused to be signatory to the ICC treaty,” he said.
He said the “national interest” and “security” of the country “are the most important considerations”.
Asked if releasing Mr. Dasuki could threaten Nigeria’s security, he said, “Well he was a National Security Adviser. That’s a very powerful office; and he’s a Prince”.
Mr. Obla said “cumulatively”, Mr. Dasuki misappropriated $15 billion meant for procurement of arms to prosecute the war against Boko Haram terrorism in the North East.
He denied that Mr. Buhari was being vindictive and acting in contempt of court in the case of Mr. Dasuki.
“The president has not disobeyed any law regarding Dasuki. The first charge against Dasuki was unlawful possession of firearms. They brought application for his bail which was granted. As he was perfecting his bail conditions and before he was released, he was arrested for another offence. That’s it.
“If you are arrested for manslaughter, you asked for bail and the bail is granted. But as you are about to be released, the police come to say you are accused of killing another person two years ago, that has cancelled the first bail.
“There is no evidence that the federal government is in contempt of court,” he said.
He, however, said the government was “still studying the judgement”, echoing an earlier position of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.