ECOWAS court declares Dasuki’s re-arrest, detention illegal
• Awards ex-NSA N15m damages
• CCT rules against Orubebe
• Orders seizure, forfeiture of Abuja property
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the immediate release of a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), from detention.
In the judgment delivered by Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke yesterday, the regional court also imposed a N15 million fine on the Federal Government as damages to Dasuki for depriving him of his freedom to liberty and ownership of property.
The former NSA has been in the custody of the government since December 2015.
The regional court held that the detention of Dasuki violated both national and international laws on the right of persons and citizens to the freedom of liberty.
In the judgment that spanned over an hour, the ECOWAS court dismissed the allegations of unlawful possession of firearms and economic crimes used by the government to justify the detention of Dasuki. It rather held that the Nigerian government missed the track because Dasuki applied to the court for the enforcement of his breached and contravened fundamental rights.
Justice Nwoke maintained that even if the applicant had committed a crime, the law still stipulates that due process must be observed in his trial. According to him, it is 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 added that the action of the Nigerian government in subjecting the ex-NSA to indefinite detention without trial was condemnable since no criminality has been established against him.
The ECOWAS court flayed the government for its claim that it detained Dasuki without trial because he was planning to stage a coup and wage war against millions of Nigerians, stressing that the defendant (Nigeria) was so confused and not consistent throughout in its defence in the suit against it.
Justice Chijioke further stated that the Nigerian government took the laws into its hands and made mockery of the rule of law by arresting the applicant without a warrant of arrest or detention when he had legally been granted bail by the appropriate courts.
According to the court, a detention order must be made in writing and must be delivered to the detainees. It noted that in the instant case, none of such was obtained and delivered to Dasuki by the government before arresting him and forcibly taking away his property in Sokoto and Abuja.
The court also dismissed the claim that Dasuki was arrested and detained in his own interest, declaring that it was an assault to the Nigerian Constitution and other international laws because there was no iota of evidence placed before the court that the applicant applied for security protection.
The court said the claim 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 also committed some economic crimes.
The court held: “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 the freedom of liberty. Courts 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 Qcourts.
“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.”
Also yesterday, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) ruled against a former Minister of the Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe, in charges of false declaration of assets brought against him by the Federal Government.
In the CCT ruling delivered by the chairman, Mr. Danladi Umar, the tribunal ordered the seizure and forfeiture of a landed property allegedly belonging to Orubebe.
The government had taken Orubebe to the tribunal on a one-count charge of non-declaration of landed property situated at Plot 2057, Asokoro District, Abuja.
During the trial earlier in the year, Orubebe had told the tribunal that the said land no longer belonged to him as he had transferred it to one Akinwumi Ajibola in lieu of his (Orubebe) two-year house rent in Mabushi where he stayed as a minister.
Orubebe had further told the tribunal that all the documents as they concerned the land, including the power of attorney, had been transferred to Ajibola.
Delivering judgment, Umar held that having analysed the submissions of parties, it was observed that six years after the transfer of the property was made, the documents on the land were yet to be registered in the Lands Registry.
He added that the prosecution had established its case beyond reasonable doubt and that the defendant was under obligation to register the land in the registry in Abuja.
“Failure to register the document at the registry rendered the transfer null. In the circumstance, the defendant is still the owner of the said plot – 2057, Asokoro District, and not Barrister Akinwumi Ajibola, who testified as the Defence Witness 1.”