By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Economic Community for West African States, ECOWAS, Court, Tuesday, ordered the Federal Government to immediately release the erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, from detention and asked that the Federal Government to pay him N15 million damages.
Dasuki, who was NSA to former President Goodluck Jonathan, has been in detention since November 3, 2015, when he was arrested by security operatives over his alleged complicity in a $2.1billion arms procurement fraud.
Though the ex-NSA eventually secured bail from three separate courts he was dragged to by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, he was on December 29, re-arrested by operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, after he was released from Kuje Prison, Abuja, having perfected all the bail conditions.
Dissatisfied with the treatment meted out to him by the government, Dasuki, through his team of lawyers, filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit before the ECOWAS Court in Abuja.
Delivering judgment on the matter, the court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel of Justices, declared the arrest and continued detention of the plaintiff since last year as illegal, unlawful and arbitrary.
The regional court found FG guilty of violating the plaintiff’s fundamental human rights, saying the action of the Nigerian government was in contravention of both national and international laws on the right of persons and citizens to freedom of liberty.
Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke who read the lead verdict, awarded N15million against FG, as compensatory damages to Dasuki for the deprivation of his right under Article 5 and 6 of the African Charter on People’s and Persons’ Rights to freedom of Liberty.
The court maintained that action of the Nigerian government in subjecting the plaintiff/applicant to indefinite detention without trial was “condemnable”, since he was yet to be convicted before any court of law.
Justice Nwoke stressed that even if the applicant had committed a crime, FG ought to follow due process of the law in trying him.
The court held that it was wrong for FG to continue to detain the plaintiff, even though he had been granted bail by three different trial courts.
More so, the ECOWAS blasted FG for claiming that the ex-NSA was planning to stage a coup and wage war against millions of Nigerians.