The arrest and detention of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, has been declared unlawful by the court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The court which made the declaration on Tuesday also said that Dasuki’s further arrest after granted bail by a court is a mockery of democracy and rule of law.
Dasuki was arrested on November 4 by the State Security Service (SSS) 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 firearms.
Dasuki 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 since remained in SSS custody since his arrest.
The ECOWAS court involving a three-member panel led by Justice Friday Nwoke said Nigeria’s government was wrong in arresting Dasuki without a search warrant, adding that the pattern of arrest contradicts the provisions of Section 28 of the Nigerian Police Act which says 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 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 granted after due consideration of the said application, in compliance with section 144 of the ACJA.
The Nigerian government had claimed 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. This, the court said, was ineffective in proving its points.
The judge said the search warrant presented before the ECOWAS court was not certified and therefore lacks verifiable authenticity.
The court also said that the Nigerian government failed to prove its reasons for the arrest and detention of Dasuki, saying documents presented before it only emphasized on allegations of fraud and illegal possession of arms.
The ECOWAS court added it was not set to determine whether or not the possession of arms by Dasuki amounted to an offense or not, but it, however, decided that the arrest was unlawful, arbitrary and a violation of local and international rights to liberty.
The court ordered the Federal Government to pay a sum of N15 million as damages to Dasuki, also stating that the cost of litigation will be summed up and charged against the Nigerian government.