The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Community Court of Justice has adjourned judgment indefinitely in the case of former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki against the Federal Government in which he challenged his unlawful detention since December 2015 in the custody of the Department of the State Security Service, DSS.
The court, presided over by Justice Friday Nwoke had on May 16 reserved judgment till Wednesday, June 29 after taking final argument from Dasuki’s lawyer, Robert Emukperuo and government lawyer, Tijani Gazali.
However, journalists, lawyers and other observers who stormed the regional court in Abuja on Wednesday were told the much awaited verdict of the court was not ready and that the new date for the judgment would be communicated to lawyers when ready.
They were turned back at the entrance of the court by security men who told them that the court management had mandated them to tell everybody that judgment was not ready, prompting the people to leave one after the other when the reality dawned on them that the court will not sit after all.
Dasuki had dragged the federal government before the ECOWAS Court praying the regional court to intervene in his detention without trial since December last year.
The ex-NSA asked the court to void the detention, the seizure of his properties and to bar government from further detaining him without a lawful court order.
In the court action he instituted, Dasuki asked the court to award in his favor a sum of N500 million as compensatory damages for his alleged unlawful invasion of his house, detention, seizure of properties and infringement on his rights.
He claimed that government had put him on trial in three different high courts on corruption charges where he was granted bail and that after his bail, he was re-arrested on December 29, 2015 and has since been held incommunicado without lawful court order.
“The critical issue that needs to be resolved is whether there is any legal justification for the detention of the applicant by the defendant”, he said, adding that the only justification in the amended statement of defence adduced by the defendant for detaining the applicant is the recourse to national security.
“They have not adduced before this court any judicial procedure that they have relied on in incarcerating the applicant.
“They have equally not relayed to the court any domestic legislation whatsoever to justify the detention of the applicant.
“My lord I submit that this is a classic case of arbitrary and illegal arrest”, Dasuki added.
But the Federal Government had argued a preliminary objection against Dasuki on the ground that he ought to have filed a contempt charge against the government for alleged disobedience to court order on the bail granted him but the ECOWAS Court ruled that the case of the plaintiff was on his fundamental rights and has nothing to do with the domestic court.
ECOWAS May be Financially Broke
While no reason was giving for the indefinite adjournment of the ruling on Dasuki’s case, the ECOWAS Court and its Parent body the ECOWAS Secretariat may be financially broke.
Recently the Vice President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Micah Wright had disclosed that one of the impediments that the court was facing was insufficient fund for its operation due to non-payment of levy by member states.
“The court and by extension the entire community is facing financial difficulties where member states are not paying up the community levy and that is the means of finance for all ECOWAS activities,” he said.
“The court is always at disadvantage when the funds are being distributed. But we have to take more initiatives to impress it upon the commission the mandate of the court is of such that the court is alone.
“The court cannot source external funding like the commission or like other institutions. We don’t want to compromise our independence and neutrality by going out to seek donor funding.”
At another occasion, the President of ECOWAS, Marcel De Souza had expressed frustration over the paucity of fund being experienced by the commission.
De Souza, spoke when he led a delegation from the commission to a courtesy visit on the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadijat Abba-Ibrahim.
He appealed to Nigeria and other member states to rescue the commission by paying up their outstanding levies.
“The community levy which represents 90 percent of our funding is no longer regularly paid by most member states; Nigeria is not alone in this regard, also Cote D’Ivoire…
“We see that the greatest challenge lies with Nigeria. The arrears that Nigeria is owing is 694,000 dollars because there was no payment made between 2015 and 2016.
“Because of the debt burden it carries, ECOWAS is now losing its credibility,” the president said.
Meanwhile President Muhammadu Buhari had assured of Nigeria’s continued commitment to meet all her obligations to the ECOWAS Commission.
President Buhari made the pledged last month (May 27, 2016) while receiving the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel de Souza in the State House, Abuja.
The President was reported to have told the ECOWAS delegation that “the federal government of Nigeria would strive to show good example by meeting all its financial obligations to the sub-regional organisation.”