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ECOWAS Court Orders Release Of Dasuki, Fines FG N15 Million

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Former NSA Sambo Dasuki
Former NSA Sambo Dasuki

Embattled former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, got a reprieve on Tuesday from the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice when it ruled that his arrest and detention was unlawful and arbitrary.

The court also ruled that the Federal Government should pay a sum of N15 million as damages to the former NSA, and that the cost of litigation will be summed up and charged against the Nigerian government.

The court added that the federal government’s re-arrest of Dasuki on November 4, after he was granted bail by a court of law amounts to a mockery of democracy and the rule of law.

Dasuki, who is facing multiple trials over an alleged diversion of $2.1 billion meant for the purchase of arms during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, had approached the ECOWAS court after he was rearrested by members of the Department of State Services, DSS, shortly after meeting his bail conditions in November last year.

The court had in April ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the suit brought before it by Dasuki, who is seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights to liberty and to own property as enshrined in the provisions of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution and African Charter on fundamental rights of persons.

The former NSA, who is also accused of illegal possession of fire arms, has remained in the custody of the DSS since his arrest.

A three-member panel of the ECOWAS court led by Justice Friday Nwoke on Tuesday, said the Nigerian government erred by arresting Dasuki without a search warrant, adding that the pattern of arrest negates the provisions of Section 28 of the Nigerian Police Act.

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The section stipulates that a superior police officer may authorise the search of a residence belonging to a suspect assumed to be in illegal possession of an item, if the officer so authorised has a search warrant.

The court also 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 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.

The judge, who pointed out that the search warrant presented before the ECOWAS court was not certified and therefore lacks verifiable authenticity, stated that 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.

He 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, even as the panel decided that the arrest was unlawful, arbitrary and a violation of local and international rights to liberty.

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