The Federal Government will comply with the ECOWAS Court order to release former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) from detention, Nigeria’s chief law officer told Daily Trust yesterday.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and minister for justice, Abubakar Malami SAN disclosed this on the sideline of the meeting of Attorneys General at the Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.
“We will study the ruling, we are waiting for the ruling from the ECOWAS Court, and one thing that I am certain of is that there is room for judicial review.
“... But one thing I can assure you is that we will comply with the order and the necessary provisions of the law as applicable, so we study it in line with the provisions of the prevailing law in the country,” he said.
The ECOWAS Court last Tuesday in Abuja ordered for Dasuki’s release and also awarded a fine of N15m against the government for illegal detention of the former NSA.
Justice Chijioke Nwoke who delivered the judgement said that even if the applicant had committed a crime, the law still has it that due process of the law must be observed in his trial adding that it is an established fact that the applicant was put on trial in three different Nigerian High Courts and was granted bails by the courts.
The court condemned the action of the Nigerian government in subjecting the ex-NSA to indefinite detention without trial.
The ECOWAS Court doesn’t have the instruments to enforce its judgments like other municipal courts in Nigeria, a constitutional lawyer and professor of law, Auwalu Yadudu, has said.
Speaking to Daily Trust last night, he said the ECOWAS court has no superior powers over other Nigerian courts, because “Nigeria has domesticated the ECOWAS Treaty and the ECOWAS Court has become part of our legislation.”
“The ECOWAS court doesn’t have stronger powers than metropolitan courts,” the professor said.
“Whatever the court decides, it will be treated as part of the Nigerian constitution. It doesn’t enjoy any other powers than an ordinary court in the country,” Yadudu said.
He said unlike municipal courts, like the Federal High Court Lagos for instance, the ECOWAS Court doesn’t have powers to enforce its judgments. It doesn’t have the police force or any other law enforcement agencies to enforce its rulings,” the constitutional lawyer said.
He said the refusal of any government agency to implement a court order is another determinant of the weakness of the rule of law in the country.
He said the former NSA Sambo Dasuki’s case represents the political escalation of the ongoing saga, whereby Nigerians go to “regional courts such as the ECOWAS Court for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights because they couldn’t get it at the domestic courts such as the Federal High Court, Lagos.”
The professor of law said the federal government can’t release Dasuki based on other court orders. He said the former security chief is being tried in other courts on different charges.
On his part Alhaji Ahmed Raji (SAN) asked the government to comply with the order.
Raji said that Nigeria as a respected member of ECOWAS and the International Community is expected to honour its obligations to the protocols establishing the court by complying with its order.
The senior lawyer said that the spirit invoked in the acceptance of the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the disputed oil rich Bakassi Land must be applied in the decision of the ECOWAS Court.
Raji explained that ECOWAS Court was not a domestic court, its sitting in Nigeria notwithstanding.
“I am appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to facilitate immediate compliance with the ECOWAS Court decision. I am also appealing to the Presidential aides especially the Chief Law Officer of the Federation Mallam Abubakar Malami SAN and the heads of the intelligence units to advise the President properly”.
“The order of the court cannot be ridiculed and Nigeria, as a democratic nation, cannot afford to ridicule the court order in the interest of the corporate image of the country”.