Oct 5, 2016

Opinion: On Sambo Dasuki and the ruling of the ECOWAS Court by Raymond Nkannebe

The considered ruling yesterday 4th October, of a three man panel of the Ecowas court led by Justice Friday Nwoke that terminated in an order of immediate release of the estranged former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki who has been in custody of the DSS since last year, and cost against the Nigerian state in the sum of 15 million naira is a welcome development. Nigerian security operatives on no reason should be allowed in any guise to overshot the runway of the law ostensibly to fortify the security of the nation.

The right to Freedom of Liberty save in the exceptional cases must always remain guaranteed. While some may argue that the circumstances bringing Dasuki within this maze of legality falls within those exception encapsulated in section 35 of the constitution and as such should earn him a continuous detention at the DSS, we beg to disagree and anchor our disagreement on a plethora of decided cases by the supreme and appellate courts of this clime to wit :Abacha v state, Bamaiyi v state, Fawehinmi v state Ani v state to name but a few. Where the learned justices of both courts reechoed the attitude of the courts in admitting to bail a person accused of an offence grave as they may be, to the effect that where the accused would not prejudice the investigation of the police; commit another offence or abscond from the jurisdiction of the courts during the pendency of the trial; then bail becomes a right. 

It is our submission that poor Dasuki has fulfilled or at one point or the other undertaken to fulfill these conditions, yet his twin rights of Freedom of Movement and liberty as enshrined in sections 38 and 35 of the constitution respectively, remain breached by security agencies. 

More so, one of the "exceptional circumstances" in the language of the ACJA 2015 to be admitted to bail as provided in section 161(2)b is, "extraordinary delay in the investigation, arraignment and prosecution for a period exceeding one year". It is common knowledge that Sambo Dasuki has remained in custody beyond this window of the law. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that our security operatives have breached both the judicial and statutory requirements of the law in their desperation to secure conviction of the former Security Chief. 

It is lugubriously pitiable that whereas the role of the police in any democracy is to prosecute accused persons, the police have taken to persecution and a man-eat-man approach to justice. This judicial rascality and professional indiscretion must stop. 

It is on the sands of the fore going therefore, that the judgment of the Ecowas court as a regional court of competent jurisdiction becomes instructive and hence should be hailed. While many lawyers have argued that the judgment of the court is at best persuasive and it's sanctions prone to abuse by member nations, it remains to be seen how the Buhari administration who rode to power on the wings of democracy and Rule of Law and who therewith, told a beleaguered nation at his inaugural address that he would uphold the rule of law and all conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory to, would react to this particular ruling of the court. 

Let us conclude by paraphrasing the irrepressible late Justice Chukwudifu Akunne Oputa in one of his legal sound bites. The prosecution in its pivotal role of helping the courts come to the justice of a case must always remember that their role is to prosecute and not persecute. A spectacle where the Law is triumphant and justice prostrate therefore, must remain a sorry, and I dare say, gory spectacle. For the law in the final analysis is but a hand maid of justice.

The writer, a lawyer and public affairs commentator wrote in from kano. He can be reached via Raymondnkannebe@gmail. Twitter : @RayNkah 

Photo Credit 1 - Naij.com 
Photocredit 2 - punchng.com