Round One: Sambo Dasuki Floors Nigerian Govt at ECOWAS Court
A former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, on Monday triumphed at the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) court in the first leg of his court action challenging his alleged unlawful arrest and detention since December last year by the Nigerian government, Premium Times reports.
Against the objection of government, the court ruled in Abuja that it has jurisdiction to entertain the suit brought before it by Mr. Dasuki for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to liberty and to own property as enshrined in the Nigerian 1999 constitution and African Charter on fundamental rights of persons, news agency, PRNigeria, is reporting.
In the ruling delivered by Justice Friday Chijoke Nwoke, the ECOWAS court dismissed the objection of government against Mr. Dasuki’s suit on the ground that the objection was misconceived, frivolous and lacked merit.
Justice Nwoke who delivered the unanimous ruling by the three-member panel of the court, held that the claim of government that Mr. Dasuki’s case emanated from his trial on certain offences was inappropriate since the relieves sought by Mr. Dasuki had nothing to do with his ongoing trial at the domestic courts of Nigeria.
The justices held that the claim of government that Mr. Dasuki ought to have filed contempt charge against the Nigerian government for disobeying court orders cannot be sustained because the case of the applicant is not ambiguous, in that it has no root from any criminal trial in any court.
Justice Nwoke said at any rate, the claim by the Nigerian government could not stand in the face of the law because there was no evidence that Mr. Dasuki had filed similar matter in any international court.
The judge said even if he had similar matter in any Nigerian court (up to Supreme Court), such a domestic court would not be allowed the status of an international court as envisaged in the treaty in which Nigeria is signatory.
“In our opinion, what Dasuki brought before us as a case is an issue for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to liberty and own property and against unlawful arrest, unlawful detention and unlawful seizure of properties without any court order or warrant of arrest.
“From the totality of the issues brought before this court, it is clear and there is no ambiguity that the applicant is seeking enforcement of his right to freedom and not on the issue of his trial for any alleged offence before any Nigerian court”.
Justice Nwoke further said, “Therefore, the objection of the government and the request that the case of the applicant in this matter be struck out on the ground of emanating from any criminal matter has no basis, the claims and the request lack merit and hereby dismissed and we declare that the application of Dasuki is admissible to this court,” the court said.
The sub-regional court said it was not out to decide the issue of whether the applicant is guilty of the charges against him in the Nigerian courts or not but simply to ascertain whether his continued detention, having been granted bail in criminal matters and rearrested since last year and kept in an unknown place, constitute an abuse of his rights to freedom.
Mr. Dasuki, through his lawyer, Robert Emukpoeruo and Wale Balogun, had filed an action before the ECOWAS court to complain that Nigerian security agencies invaded his homes in Abuja, Kaduna and Sokoto without any court order or warrant of arrest and seized his properties, comprising vehicles, money and documents, an action he argued amounted to abuse of his rights to liberty as enshrined in section 36 and 34 of the 1999 constitution and other international laws to which Nigeria is signatory.
Besides, he complained that the invasion of his homes by operatives of government traumatised his 94-year old father who became traumatised and had, up till now, yet to recover from the sickness that followed.
Mr. Dasuki therefore asked the ECOWAS court to award N500million compensatory damages in his favour having been denied access to medical attention abroad as ordered by a Nigerian court since November last year.
The government, through its lawyer, Tijani Gazali, had objected to Mr. Dasuki’s case on the ground that the ECOWAS court had no jurisdiction to dabble into the trial of any Nigerian in a Nigerian court and asked the ECOWAS court to strike out the case, saying it constituted an abuse to the Nigerian courts.
After the court dismissed the objection of the Nigerian government, it fixed May 17 and 18, 2016 for hearing of the substantive matter.
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