The Court of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, on Tuesday declared the arrest and detention of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, as unlawful and arbitrary.
The court also held that the further arrest of Mr. Dasuki by government on November 4, after he was granted bail by a court of law, amounts to a mockery of democracy and the rule of law.
Mr. Dasuki is facing multiple trials for alleged diversion of $2.1 billion meant for the purchase of arms in the immediate past administration. He is also accused of illegal possession of fire arms.
He approached the ECOWAS court after he was rearrested by members of Nigeria’s State Security Service shortly after meeting his bail conditions in November last year. He has remained in the custody of the SSS since his arrest.
On Tuesday, a three-member panel led by Justice Friday Nwoke said Nigeria’s government was wrong in arresting Mr. Dasuki without a search warrant, adding that the pattern of arrest negates the provisions of Section 28 of the Nigerian Police Act.
According to the said section, 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 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 Mr. 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.
Acording to the judge, the search warrant presented before the ECOWAS court was not certified and therefore lacks verifiable authenticity.
The court said government failed to prove its reasons for arresting and detaining Mr. Dasuki, as documents presented before it only emphasised the allegations of fraud and illegal possession of arms.
It added that the ECOWAS court was not set to determine whether or not the possession of arms by Mr. Dasuki amounted to an offence or not.
It however decided that the arrest was unlawful, arbitrary and a violation of local and international rights to liberty.
The court ruled that Federal Government should pay a sum of N15 million as damages to Mr. Dasuki.
It also decided that the cost of litigation will be summed up and charged against the Nigerian government.