The Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States has ruled that it has the jurisdiction to hear a suit filed by former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, to challenge his alleged unlawful detention.
Dasuki was arrested by the operatives of the Department of State Services on December 29, 2015, shortly after he was released on bail from Kuje Prison with respect to the various charges pending against him.
In a ruling by a three-man bench on Monday, the ECOWAS Court dismissed the Federal Government’s objection to the hearing of Dasuki’s suit.
Justice Chijoke Nwoke, who presided over and read the court’s ruling, held that Nigeria’s Federal Government, represented by Tijani Ganzali, misunderstood the kernel of Dasuki’s case by arguing that it bordered on contempt of the orders previously made by the Nigerian courts.
The judge held that Dasuki’s case was mainly challenging the alleged breach of his fundamental human rights by agents of the Nigerian government.
He ruled, “In determining jurisdiction, the court is to look at the facts as stated by the plaintiff and the prayers he sought, not the defendant’s.
“A careful analysis of the facts by the applicant is that he was unlawfully detained without committing any offence, and that his continued detention was as a result of the defendant’s President’s statement that he will not be released.”
The judge also ruled that the Nigerian government’s argument that similar case was pending in local courts was baseless as the cases referred to were criminal and not related to rights abuse.
He added that from the facts available to the court, no similar case was pending before any other court which ordinarily would have denied the ECOWAS Court the necessary jurisdiction.
He said, “It is beyond contention that the issues raised in this matter border on human right violation. The defendant’s (Federal Republic of Nigeria’s) argument that a similar case is pending in Nigerian court is unfounded.
“The pendency of any similar case in Nigeria does not amount to lack of jurisdiction by an international court. An individual can maintain a fundamental rights enforcement case before this court even if he has not exhausted local remedies.”