The arrest and detention of Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser, was today, Tuesday, October 4th, declared as ‘unlawful and arbitrary’ by the Court of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.
Recall that Dasuki was further arrested on November 4, 2015, after he was granted bail by a court of law. This, according to the ECOWAS court, amounts to a mockery of democracy and the rule of law.
Mr. Sasuki brought his case before the ECOWAS court following his re-arrest by members of the Nigerian State Security Service, SSS, shortly after he met his bail conditions in November 2015. He has been in the custody of the SSS since he was arrested.
Speaking on Tuesday, a three-member panel led by Justice Friday Nwoke faulted the government of Nigeria for arresting Mr. Dasuki without a search warrant and made it clear that the pattern of his arrest contravenes the provisions of Section 28 of the Nigerian Police Act which states that a superior police officer may authorise the search of a resident belonging to a suspect assumed to be in illegal possession of an item, if the officer so authorised has a search warrant.
The court further pointed out 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 granted after due consideration of the said application, in compliance with section 144 of the ACJA.
In addition, the court also said that the submission of the Nigerian government that it went to Mr. Dasuki’s house with the search warrant but was not able to get it across to him because officers at his residence resisted the security operatives, was of no effect in proving its points.
The judge stated that the search warrant brought before the ECOWAS court was not certified and consequently lacks verifiable authenticity, adding that the government failed to prove its reasons for arresting and detaining Mr. Dasuki, as documents presented before it only stressed the allegations of fraud and illegal possession of arms.
Although it said that the ECOWAS court was not set to determine whether or not Dasuki’s possession of arms was an offence or not, it nevertheless decided that the arrest was unlawful, arbitrary and a violation of local and international rights to liberty.
The court finally ruled that the Federal Government should pay a sum of N15 million as damages to Mr. Dasuki and also decided that the cost of litigation will be added up and charged against the Nigerian government.