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Nigeria’s stance on ECOWAS Court ruffles feathers



Analysts say action undermines authority of ECOWAS


By Akpo Ometan


Nigeria’s continued refusal to heed the ruling of an ECOWAS Court instructing the release on bail of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki is continuing to ruffle feathers within the sub-region.

Commenting on the subject recently, the lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) advised the federal government to release the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) as ordered by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Falana argued this in a statement issued in Lagos, asserting that this has become necessary to allow Col. Sambo to enjoy his human right to liberty within the context of the bails granted him by the trial courts.

“Having loudly proclaimed to operate under the rule of law, Nigeria cannot afford to ignore the order of ECOWAS Court. Indeed, as a leading member state of the ECOWAS, the Nigerian government must contuinue to demonstrate leadership by example”, he said.

The former president of the West African Bar Association argued further that if the federal government could persuade the former military dictators in Niger Republic to release ex-President Mammoud Tandja from custody in line with the order of the Ecowas court, “President Buhari should therefore direct the SSS to comply with the order of the ECOWAS Court by releasing Col. Dasuki (rtd.) on bail without further delay.

He recalled two courts, a federal high court, Abuja and a Fedral Capital Territory (FCT) high court had admitted the former NS, who was facing charges bordering on money laundering offences, to bail.

He noted that though the authorities of Kuje prisons released him having fulfilled his bail conditions on December 29, last year, he was re-arrested by the SSS and has remained in detention since then.

Falana claimed to have advised government to comply with the orders admitting the suspects to bail pending trial because the fresh arrest could not be justified under the constitution but that his advise was ignored for reasons best known to the government.

He reasoned that the development may have compelled the detainee to approach the ECOWAS court for the enforcement of his human rights to personal liberty guaranteed by Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

Although government challenged the jurisdiction of the court, he noted that the objection was dismissed while the ECOWAS court held that the detention of the former NSA could not be justified under the Nigerian constitution without a court order.

He however clarified that that contrary to wrong impression created that Col. Dasuki was released by the court unconditionally, he said all that the ECOWAS court said was that the suspect be allowed to enjoy his human right to liberty within the context of the bails granted him by the trial courts.

Analysts say that the net effect of the current situation is an undermining of the authority of the sub-regional grouping which Nigeria paradoxically is a prime facilitator and financier.

‘Does it really make sense to kill your own baby over his views?’ one of our respondents queried.


Marcel Alain de Souza, President, ECOWAS Commission


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