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Dasuki: Ecowas court retains jurisdiction, dismisses Nigerian Government objection

Sambo Dasuki

The ECOWAS court sitting in Abuja has ruled that it has jurisdiction to entertain the suit brought before it by  former NSA, Mr. Dasuki Sambo for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to liberty and to own property as enshrined in the Nigerian 1999 constitution and African Charter on fundamental rights of persons.

Mr. Dasuki, through his lawyer, Robert Emukpoeruo and Wale Balogun, had filed an action before the ECOWAS court to complain that Nigerian security agencies invaded his homes in Abuja, Kaduna and Sokoto without any court order or warrant of arrest and seized his properties, comprising vehicles, money and documents, an action he argued amounted to abuse of his rights to liberty as enshrined in section 36 and 34 of the 1999 constitution and other international laws to which Nigeria is signatory. Apart from this, he complained that the invasion of his homes by operatives of government traumatised his 94-year old father who became traumatised and had, up till now being unable to recover from the sickness that followed. Mr. Dasuki therefore asked the ECOWAS court to award N500 million compensatory damages in his favour having been denied access to medical attention abroad as ordered by a Nigerian court since November last year.

The Nigerian government, through its lawyer, Tijani Gazali, had objected to Mr. Dasuki’s case on the ground that the ECOWAS court had no jurisdiction to dabble into the trial of any Nigerian in a Nigerian court and asked the ECOWAS court to strike out the case, saying it constituted an abuse to the Nigerian courts.

In the ruling delivered by Justice Friday Chijoke Nwoke, the court dismissed the objection of the Nigerian government on the ground that the objection was misconceived, frivolous and lacked merit. The judge said that the claim by the Nigerian government could not stand in the face of the law because there was no evidence that Mr. Dasuki had filed similar matter in any international court. He noted that even if he had similar matter in any Nigerian court (up to Supreme Court), such a domestic court would not be allowed the status of an international court as envisaged in the treaty in which Nigeria is signatory.

The case was subsequently adjourned to May 17 and 18, 2016 for hearing of the substantive matter.

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