Legal Nigeria

The Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said yesterday it had jurisdiction to hear a suit by former National Security Adviser (NSA) Mohammed Sambo Dasuki.
Dasuki brought a fundamental rights enforcement suit before the court, challenging his continued detention by the Department of State Services (DSS).
He contends among others that his detention was a violation of his rights on the grounds, among others, that not only has he been granted bail by Nigerian courts, there was no subsisting order for his detention.
In a ruling yesterday, a three-man bench of the ECOWAS Court dismissed Federal Government’s objection to its hearing of the suit.
Justice Friday Chijoke Nwoke, who presided and read the ruling, held that the Nigerian government, represented by Tijani Ganzali, misunderstood the kernel of Dasuki’s case by arguing that it bordered on contempt of the order made by Nigerian courts.
The judge said Dasuki’s case was mainly a challenge of the alleged breach of his rights by agents of the Nigerian government.
“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 analyses 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,” he said.
On the Nigerian government’s argument that a similar case was pending in local courts, Justice Nwoke believed that the case before the Nigerian courts were criminal and not related to rights abuse.
He added that no similar case pending before any other international court, which ordinarily, would have denied his court the necessary jurisdiction.
“It is beyond contention that the issues raised in this matter borders on human rights violation. The defendant’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 an international court. An individual can maintain a fundamental rights enforcement case before this court, even if he has not exhausted local remedies.
“The case before this court is not similar with the criminal ones before the local courts. This application (suit by Dasuki) is declared admissible.
“This court dismisses the objection of the Federal Government. Cost is to abide the final determination of the case,” Justice Nwoke said.
He adjourned to May 17 and 18 for definite hearing of the substantive case.
The Nation

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