THE Court of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, on Tuesday, October 4, declared the arrest and detention of Sambo Dasuki, a former national security adviser, as unlawful and arbitrary.
The court further held that the continued arrest of Dasuki by government on November 4, after he was granted bail by a court of law, amounts to a mockery of democracy and the rule of law.
The three-member panel led by Justice Friday Nwoke ruled that Nigeria’s government was wrong in arresting Dasuki without a search warrant, adding that the pattern of arrest negates the provisions of Section 28 of the Nigerian Police Act.
According to the said section, a superior police officer may authorise the search of a resident belonging to a suspect assumed to be in illegal possession of an item, if the officer so authorised has a search warrant.
The court similarly noted that Section 143 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, allows that where such a search is proposed by the police or other authorities, an application must first be made to a court of law and granted after due consideration of the said application, in compliance with section 144 of the ACJA.
The court further said the submission of Nigerian government that it came with the search warrant to Dasuki’s house but could not give it to him, because officers at his residence resisted the security operatives, was ineffective in proving its points.
Besides, the judge said that the search warrant presented before the ECOWAS court was not certified and therefore lacks verifiable authenticity.
The court said that the Nigeria’s government failed to prove its reasons for arresting and detaining Dasuki, as documents presented before it only emphasised the allegations of fraud and illegal possession of arms.
It added that the ECOWAS court was not set to determine whether or not the possession of arms by Dasuki amounted to an offence or not. But decided that the arrest was unlawful, arbitrary and a violation of local and international rights to liberty.
The court ruled that federal government should pay a sum of N15 million as damages to Dasuki. It also decided that the cost of litigation would be summed up and charged against the Nigerian government.
The former NSA is facing multiple trials for alleged diversion of $2.1 billion meant for the purchase of arms in the previous administration.
He is also facing trial for illegal possession of fire arms.
Irked by his inability to get bail in order to receive treatment abroad, Dasuki approached the ECOWAS court after he was rearrested by members of Nigeria’s State Security Service shortly after meeting his bail conditions in November last year.
He has since remained in the custody of the State Security Service, SSS.
— Oct 4, 2016 @ 15:30 GMT