By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Federal Government, yesterday, challenged the powers of the Court of Justice for the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to compel it to release the erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) from detention.
Government, through its lawyer, Mr. T. A. Gazalli, maintained that ECOWAS court was bereft of the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the fundamental rights enforcement suit the former NSA lodged before it.
It told the court that Dasuki was facing multiple criminal charges bordering on corruption and economic sabotage, insisting that his continued detention was not in disobedience of any legal pronouncement.
Government argued that the ECOWAS court lacked powers to enforce the bail conditions granted Dasuki, as it could not exercise appellate jurisdiction over Nigerian courts.
However, Dasuki’s lawyer, Mr. Wale Balogun, urged the court to dismiss the objection raised by the Federal Government, saying it was misconceived.
Balogun told a panel of three justices of the ECOWAS Court, led by Justice Friday Nwoke, that Dasuki was only asking for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to freedom, having been arrested and detained since December 2015 without any lawful court order.
He said there was no dispute in the fact that Dasuki was charged before three courts in Nigeria for various alleged offences and that he was granted bail by the three courts but was disallowed from enjoying the bail.
The counsel informed the ECOWAS Court that since December 2015 when the applicant was arrested, till date, he had not been told of his offence or any charge preferred against him in the past four months.
Balogun pleaded the court to not only assume jurisdiction over the matter, but to also dismiss the objection by the government as grossly lacking in merit.
After listening to the parties, the Justice Nwoke-led panel adjourned the matter till April 11 for ruling.
Dasuki had gone before the ECOWAS, begging it to, among others, compel the Federal Government to release him on bail.