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  ECOWAS COURT ORDERS NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, PAY N15M IN DAMAGES FOR THE VIOLATION OF HIS HUMAN RIGHTS


The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ordered the Federal Republic of Nigeria to immediately release Retired Colonel Sambo Mohammed, the National Security Adviser to a former Nigerian President, from detention and pay the sum of N15million naira in damages for the violation of his human rights.


A panel of three judges of the Court presided over by Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke   said that the ‘arrest,  detention and continued detention’ of the Adviser since November 5, 2015 ‘ without charge or judicial order having been granted bail by three different  domestic courts’ is unlawful, arbitrary and constitutes a violation of his rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right.


The panel also declared that the ‘invasion of the Applicant’s home, privacy and correspondence’ at his residences in the Nigerian capital and Sokoto, in the North West part of the country on 16th and 17th July 2015 and the ‘forceful removal and seizure of property without lawful authority violates his rights to own property as enshrined in African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


The court therefore ordered the government to immediately release the properties that were ‘unlawfully’ seized during the 16th and 17th July 2015 invasion of home as they were seized without lawful authority.


However, the judges declined to issue an order of injunction against the government as ‘such will amount to an interference on the right of the Defendant to prosecute and punish offences committed within its territorial jurisdiction provided such is done in accordance  with due process recognized by International Human Rights Law.’


Col. Dasuki had approached the Court in suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/01/16 seeking, among other things, a declaration that his continued detention in defiance of orders by Courts of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria is ‘unlawful, arbitrary and an egregious violation’ of his fundamental human rights.


The former national security adviser who was represented by Mr. Robert Emukperuo also contended that the forceful and unlawful seizure of his properties without lawful order or warrant of a Court of competent jurisdiction constitutes a gross violation of his rights.


In the suit, he asked for 500 million naira in compensatory damages for the ‘egregious violation’ of his human rights as guaranteed and protected by the country’s constitution and various international instruments.


The government, represented by Mr. T.D. Agbe had argued that the seizure of the Applicants property was justified by law, citing the provisions of the Act that established the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that allows the seizure of property of looters.


Also citing section 3 of the Firearms Act, CAP F28 LFN 2004 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which prescribes the arms that cannot be licensed for individual`s possession, Counsel to the government said that the arms found in Dasuki`s house belonged to the category of prohibited arms and that since the possession of such arms is illegal, there was the presumption that they are meant for illegal use.


Moreover, he told the Court that Dasuki is being detained because of his role in the over $ 2billion dollar arms funds scam and is in custody of the Directorate of State Security Services for his safety in view of ongoing investigations connected with the scam.


Furthermore, he said that the assertion that several Nigerian courts had granted the Applicant bail could not stand as there is no iota of evidence to show that he has fulfilled all bail conditions for his release, adding that he was being held for his own protection and constituted a security risk.


Also on the panel were Honorable Justices Micah Wilkins Wright and Yaya Boiro.