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Four years after, FG moves to avert looming US axe

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
25 December 2019   |   4:14 am
Four years after unlawful detention, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday, ordered the release of former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd)

Four years after unlawful detention, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday, ordered the release of former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd). The AGF in a statement issued Tuesday also ordered the release of the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore. Both Dasuki and Sowore were being detained by the Department of State Services in spite of several court orders requesting their release.

Malami, in the statement, however, stated that government’s decision to free the two followed a review of pending charges preferred against them by the Federal Government.

He said: “Whilst the Federal High Court has exercised its discretion in granting bail to the defendants in respect of the charges against them, I am also not unmindful of the right of the complainant/prosecution to appeal or further challenge the grant of bail by the court might have with regards to extant legal provisions, particularly Section 169 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015).”

Malami added that his office chose to comply with the court orders while considering the pursuit of its rights of appeal and/or review of the order relating to the bail as granted or varied by the courts.

According to him, “In line with the provisions of Sections 150(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and in compliance with the bail granted to Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) (as recently varied by the Court of Appeal) and the bail granted to Omoyele Sowore, I have directed the State Security Services to comply with the order granting bails to the defendants and effect their release.

“The two defendants are enjoined to observe the terms of their bails and refrain from engaging in any act that is inimical to public peace and national security as well as their ongoing trial which will run its course in accordance with the laws of the land,” he said.

The AGF in the statement reiterated the utmost regard his office has for the entire judicial structure in the country.

He said: “This administration remains unrelenting in deepening the rule of law and the administration of justice in general.”

Recall that Dasuki has been in the custody of DSS since December 2015, over alleged $2 billion arms fraud. He was arraigned December 14, 2015, where he pleaded not guilty to the 19-count charge of criminal breach of trust leveled against him.

Dasuki was in 2015 arraigned alongside a Director of Finance in the office of the NSA, Salisu Shuaibu and one Aminu Baba-Kusa before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court for unlawful possession of fire arm. Upon perfection of his bail conditions, he was granted bail by the court but was not released. In 2016, he was arraigned by Justice Baba Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory High Court for alleged breach of trust. He was granted bail upon perfection of his bail conditions. Yet he was denied bail. In the same 2016, Justice Peter Afem of the FCT High Court also entertained Dasuki’s suit brought against him by the Federal Government for alleged breach of public trust. Again, he was granted bail but was denied same by the government.

Consequently, Dasuki took his destinies in his hands and began a series of legal battles to reclaim his fundamental rights. His first point of call was the ECOWAS Court of Justice, where he filed a Fundamental Human Right suit against the Federal Government 2016. Justice Friday Chijioke upheld his suit and urged the government to release him immediately. Again, the order was ignored.

He later in 2018 approached the Federal High Court, where he filed another fundamental right enforcement suit. The presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, again decried Federal Government’s actions and called for his release. That also fell on deaf ears.

The most recent order for Dasuki’s release was granted by the Court of Appeal in July. The court had admitted Dasuki to bail in the sum of N100 million and two sureties in the like sum just as it awarded a fine of N5million against the Department of State Service for breach of his fundamental right. The appellate court held then that the detention of Dasuki by DSS since December 29, 2015 was illegal, unlawful and un-constitutional.

The court went further to issue an order that DSS and its director general should desist from detaining Dasuki henceforth and that whenever he was required on any allegation, it must be conducted within the working days and from 9am to 6pm to enable him go home.

Recall that those arraigned with Dasuki had since regained their freedom.

Sowore and his co accused, Olawale Bakare on the other hand are standing trial on a 16-count charge bordering on treasonable felony, money laundering etc.

They pleaded not guilty and were granted bail in the sum of N100million and N30million respectively.

The DSS had refused to release them on bail even after the met their bail condition, forcing Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu to issue a 24-hour order for their release.
However, Sowore was rearrested on December 6, shortly after he was released on bail by the DSS over a yet to be disclosed offence.

The affront on the court by the DSS and outright disobedience to court orders have been attracting condemnation by both local and international human right bodies.

Not even the US could be silent on the level of impunity perpetuated by Nigerian anti-grant and security agencies with regards to obedience to rule or law and court orders.

According to a source close to government, the sudden turn around to release both Dasuki and Sowore may not be unconnected to the position of US on Nigeria. According to him, the world has been watching cases of abuse of enforcement of human rights in Nigeria and the warnings are so clear that the government had to take necessary measures against looming axe of America on political office holders.

“They know that the next step America would have taken would be to ban them from entering US. They are afraid of being blacklisted by the US government.”

Recall also that there have been series of protests by Nigerians against government’s clampdown on her citizens, especially Sowore.